A stunning second half performance helped Havelocks come from behind to defeat Kandy 28-26 as the top two teams squared off in fitting fashion, handing the visitors their first loss in 7-years at the Park in the Dialog Rugby League.
Mainstay Dushmantha Priydarshana’s name was the first missing on the hosts team sheet as two further changes were required following their defeat to CH & FC. Kandy, on the other hand were forced into just one change to their run on XV.
Nigel Ratwatta got proceedings underway as both teams attacked from the onset but were unable to breach each-other’s defense until the quarter hour mark.
The visiting three-quarters gave the hosts plenty to think about in the opening exchanges and it was following the back lines dominance that Kandy opened their account. Returning into the starting lineup, Ganuka Dissanakaye was the beneficiary as the forward crashed over the white-wash, breaking the deadlock. Thilina Wijesinghe made no mistake, adding the extras to make it a perfect-7 for the visitors. (Havies 00-07 Kandy)
Five-eighth Nigel Ratwatta doubled the visitors’ try tally 5-minutes later as Kandy found their feet the quickest, leaving the home team in search of answers on how to crack the Kandy defense. (Havies 00-12 Kandy)
The search continued for Havelock, as the visitors persisted to surprise the Park faithful with their flying start in similar fashion to last week. Havelocks were caught out as Tharindu Chathuranaga made it three tries on the half hour mark as Kandy raced to a substantial 19-nil lead. (Havies 00-19 Kandy)
Sadun Herath was at hand to finish off a well worked post scrum move as Havelock Sports Club finally cracked the Kandy defense on the stroke of half-time with a converted try.
Half Time: Havelock Sports Club 07 (1T 1C) trail Kandy Sports Club 19 (3T 2C)
With everything left to play for, Sanath Martis laid down the law at the break, bringing life back into the Havelock’s attack. This sparked a magnificent comeback, leaving the visitors in search of answers this time around.
Randy Silva made easy work of Anuruddha Wilwara, bumping off his opponent, leaving him for dead to go over for the home team’s second. Riza Mubarak was at his usual best, knocking over the extras to make it a 5-point game. (Havies 14-19 Kandy)
Things only got better for the hosts as the Havelock machine began to roll, steaming over the visitors.
Former Royal lock forward Umesh Madushan crashed over from close range as Havelocks got back to their unstoppable best, following the coach’s stern words in the shed. Mubarak made easy work of the conversion as Havelocks took the lead for the first time in the game. (Havies 21-19 Kandy)
The hosts emptied their bench, bringing on the finishers in hope of cementing the game and their lead.
The mercurial Mithun Hapugoda — in the form of his life — found his way to the try line next as the home side seemingly put the game out of the reach of the visitors with their bonus point try.
The home forwards assumed control of proceedings, leaving the languishing Kandy team in the dust as the skies at the Park turned gloomy.
Hapugoda snuck his arm out to score after the forwards had done all the hard work, putting the game to bed with 12-minutes left. Riza continued on his merry way, making it 4-out-of-4 with the boot as Kandy trailed by more than a one-score margin. (Havies 28-19 Kandy)
With their backs up against the wall, the visitors decided to run with ball in hand. The Havelocks defense was caught out after former Havelock center Dhanushka Ranjan released Anuruddha Wilwara.
The lightning fast winger made up for his early miss, setting up captain Richard Dharmapala for Kandy’s fourth of the game, making it a two-point game following Wijesinghe’s conversion with 7-minutes left to play. (Havies 28-26 Kandy)
The game heated up with Kandy in search of their match winner, however, Havelocks shut up shop, biding their time to grind out the final minutes of the game. This — first loss in 7 years at Havelock Park — meant that Havelocks once again pipped Kandy to the summit of the table.
Full time: Havelock Sports Club 28 (4T 4C) beat Kandy Sports Club 26 (4T 3C)
ThePapare.com Player of the Match: Randy Silva (Havelock Centre)
Havelock Sports Club: Sandun Herath 1T, Umesh Madushan 1T, Randy Silva 1T, Mithun Hapugoda 1T, Riza Mubarak 4C
Kandy Sports Club: Ganuka Dissanakaye 1T, Nigel Ratwatta1T, Tharindu Chathuranga 1T, Richard Dharmapala 1T, Thilina Wijesinghe 3C