Air force who in contrast had recorded two back to back victories including that fairy tale win against Kandy SC were given a rude reality check by the ‘Reds’ who were playing their first home game this season. CR sealed the game virtually by the first half, going into the break with a 31 -06 lead.
The pre-match ground conditions were perfect for open rugby and both teams showed their intent during the first few passages of their play trying to run around the defense and opting to kick and chase, trying to put each other under pressure. Interestingly a break by CR & FC’s winger Kavindu Perera in the 8th minute, brought play into the Air force 10 meter line. The supporting CR forwards opted for few ‘hit and shoves’ from close range and strapping second rower Dilanka Perera managed to shove his way to try line. TharindeRattwatte converted giving his side the early initiative. Five minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead through Kavindu Perera who went on to score under the posts. Perera joined the line from the blind side and received a neat off load from his fellow winger Mohomed Shashan and created enough space for himself to touchdown unchallenged. (CR 14 – Air Force 00).
The hosts dominated possession and territory for larger periods of the 1st half, but Air Force managed to hold on with some desperate defending. After entering the opposition territory and leaving with no points on two previous occasions, the Airmen decided to have a go at the uprights with Charith Senevirathne putting over a penalty in the 22nd minute. (CR 14 – Air Force 03).
Ratwatte however restored the 14- point lead putting over a penalty of his own 5 minutes later. (CR 17 – Air force 03). He then went on to score CR’s 3rd try adding the finishing touches to brilliant three quarter move, slamming down under the posts. The try was converted by him as CR started to distance themselves from the opposition (CR 24 – Air Force 03).
Charith Senevirathne slotted through another 3 pointer in the 37th minute in a bid to give his team a glimmer of hope to stay in the game. But CR’s scrum half Kavindu De Costa had other ideas as he sliced through the Air Force defense and touched down just by the posts giving Rattwatte an easy kick at goal. This try came just before the half time whistle which gave the hosts a psychological advantage going into the interval (CR 31 – Air Force 06).
Half Time : CR & FC 31 – Air Force SC 06
Having already conceded 31 points in the first half, it was left to be seen how the visitors would approach the 2nd half. To their credit Air Force took the fight, to the hosts and started to build some phases through their mobile set of forwards. After entering the CR 22′ the ball was sent out to their speedy backs and a long cut out pass by Ashok Wijekumar saw Winger Ishara Madushan diving over for a try near the left corner flag. Charith Senevirathne who has been in fine form with the boot this season made a stunning conversion despite the difficult angle to breath new life into Air force hearts. (CR 31 – Air Force 13).
The deficit was cut to just ten points in the 50th minute when Prop Ranuka Madagedara crashed through the CR defense to score yet again. Senevirathne was on target once more with his kick and for the first time in the game CR were under pressure. (CR 31 – Air force 20).
Everything seemed to be going the visitors way with CR’s loose head prop Charana Chamikara sent to the sin bin after his team was previously warned for repeated infringements at the breakdown. However it was CR who showed character scoring a try against the run of play. CR’s No.08 Omalka Gunarathne broke off a 5 meter scrum and when brought down just a couple of meters close to the try line CR’s experienced second rower Ishan Noor who followed closely in support showed great awareness as he picked up the ball off the ensuing ruck and wrestled his way through to the try line, scoring under the posts. Full back Prince Chamara put over the easy conversion as CR restored their healthy lead. (CR 38 – Air Force 20).
The try turned to be the turning point as Air force started to tire and just were unable to add any further to their tally. CR on the other hand capitalized on their superior bench strength and rang up the crucial changes that injected much needed speed and vigor to their play.
With the Airmen falling behind, the flood gates started to open up as CR went on to score 3 tries in the last 10 minutes. Winger Kavindu Perera scored his 2nd try of the game in the 70th minute adding the finishing touches after some fine work by his fellow backs. Rattwatte’s attempt just lacked the direction but he manged to put over another conversion 5 minutes later when Omalka Gunarathne bulldozed his way to the line off a five meter scrum which also brought up the 50 point mark. (CR 50 – Air Force 20).
Rattwatte who had an outstanding game finished off in fine style scoring a stunning 80 meter solo try. The CR forwards managed to rip the ball off an Air Force player close to the try line and Rattwatte who received possession decided to run with the ball off his own try line. Showing off his skill he kicked ahead and collected the ball on the bounce and ran through under the posts unchallenged. He converted the try himself to end the game with 25 points under his name which propelled his side to a moral boosting victory in the process.
Full Time : CR & FC 57 (7G, 1T, 1P) – Air Force 20 (2G, 2P)
Referee: Priyantha Gunarathne
ThePapare player of the match – Tarinde Ratwatte (CR &FC)
Points Scorers: CR & FC 57 (31)
Tries – Kavindu Perera 2, Tarinde Rattwatte 2, Dilanka Perera, Kavindu De Costa, Ishan Noor, Omalka Gunarathne
Conversions – Tarinde Rattwatte 6, Prince Chamara 1
Penalties – Tarinde Ratwatte 1
Point Scorers: Air Force 20 (06)
Tries – Ishara Madushan, Ranuka Madagedara
Conversions – Charith Senevirathne 2
Penalties – Charith Senevirathne 2