Kandy Sports Club continued where they left off in 2018 when they claimed a hard-fought 45-22 win over the Airmen in their Dialog Rugby League’s first match of the second round in Nittawela.
In a typical clash between the top and the bottom of the table, both sides ran the ball from all areas of the field but in the end the tournament’s defending champions’ class shone through and they eventually outscored their visitors eight tries to four outgunning the Air Force without much trouble at all. The score read 38-05 at a one way traffic first half.
Kandy Sports Club, featuring a number of new impressive school boy signings prior to the season, made plenty of changes to their team with Mohommed Shabeer, Rashmika Chandrarathne and Lahiru Daulagala all being included.
Although Kandy were under pressure for large periods of the second half, they did well to lead the charge taking the lead through the game. Kandy started the game stronger in the first quarter and scored 24 unanswered points during that period.
The early exchanges were evenly contested although Kandy Sports Club drew first blood in the 4th minute of the game when Yakoob Ali dotted down from close quarters after Mohommed Shabeer was initially stopped just short of the try-line. Thilina Wijesinghe later slotted through the conversion to make it 7-0.
The Airmen were shell-shocked in the next ten minutes as Kandy went over the line thrice. The first came with a superb try from Anurudda Wilwara. The Winger gathered a pass from Thilina Wijesinghe, just inside the Air Force half, before setting off towards the try-line. Wili then sold Rumesh Ramdas a beautiful dummy before powering his way over the try-line.
By this point Kandy had well and truly wrested control of the game and soon Wishwamithra Jayasinghe made his brace to give the hosts an extension of the lead. Earning the right to go wide by sucking in the defenders, Nigel Ratwatte showed good vision to throw a nice, long ball out to the flying winger who had another routine dot-down in the corner.
Soon after, Kandy had their fourth. Sucking in defenders with a lovely cut out pass before Mohammed Shabeer had secured a turnover, Roshan Weerarathne went left and used the quick hands of Thilina Wijesinghe and Jason Dissanayake to get the ball out to Nigel Ratwatte with an inside pass, who scored on the stroke of the quarter-hour mark. Thilina added the extras. (Kandy 24-00 Air Force)
Kandy did not take the lead lightly and in the 20th minute Thilina Wijesinghe made a superb line break before offloading to Roshan Weerarathne, he then found the support of Wishwamithra Jayasinghe who cantered over for an easy try. Thilina yet again added the extras. (Kandy 31-00 Air Force)
Finally after waiting for so long, the visitors struck back in style, after securing a close range line-out Air Force formed the rolling maul going over the line with less resistance than expected and was rounded off in style by Abishek Fernando in the left-hand corner. The conversion failed. (Kandy 31-05 Air Force)
A moment of individual brilliance from Anurudda Wilwara just before half time gave Kandy a massive 33 point cushion at the half time break. Wilwara beating the first defender with a burst of speed, ran around the next defender before dotting down with the hosts taking a 38-05 lead in to the interval.
Half Time; Kandy 38(6T 4C) – 05(1T) Air Force
The home side were fastest out of the blocks after the restart when a lovely inside ball through gate of the flanker from Roshan Weerarathne was gathered by Buwaneka Udangamuwa as he went on his merry way to score. Thilina was on target again.
Air Force had changed their tactics in the second half and used the bulk of their forwards to good use. They were rewarded back to back, scoring two tries with rolling mauls close to the try line. Charles Praveen and Thilina Sampath collected the tries a piece. The second half turned into a boring affair with Air Force using their forwards being camped in the Kandy territory testing their defence which never gave away again. (Kandy 45-17 Air Force)
Thilina Wijesinghe then secured his man of the man performance with a lovely weave around defenders before cantering down and converting, making it 17 points in the match bag. However Air Force got a consolation try late in the game through Ishara Madushan. (Kandy 52-22 Air Force)
Full Time; Kandy 52(8T 6C) – 22(4T 1C) Air Force
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Thilina Wijesinghe (Kandy)
Tries by Wishwamithra Jayasinghe (2), Anuradda Wilwara (2), Thilina Wijesinghe, Buwaneka Udangamuwa, Yakoob Ali and Nigel Ratwatte
Conversion by Thilina Wijesinghe (6)
Tries by Thilina Sampath, Charles Praveen, Ishara Madushan and Abhishek Fernando
Conversion by Gayantha Iddamalgoda