League title winners bagged their double crown this season as they went on to retain the Clifford Cup title and win their 20th title going on to defeat Havelock Sports Club 32-20 despite a last phase fight back by the visitors.
Full-time score: Kandy 32 (4T 3C 1P 1DG) to Havelock 20 (3T 1C 1P)
After a one-sided first half, two tries from Nishon Perera of Havelock’s followed by another from the skipper Dushmantha Priyaradarshana brought the Pink jersey’s back into the game, but it was too late as Kandy having completed most of the task grabbed their double with a celebratory try.
The much awaited Dialog Clifford Cup final kicked off at Nittawela after a downpour early on with the visitors, Havelock Sports Club taking the added advantage of the conditions to maul forward.
Read: Kandy Triumphant Again
The change in conditions brought the Havies forwards to attack but several attempts at the try line proved futile thanks to the good Kandy defense. Hirantha Perera, however, drew first blood as Havelock’s led 3-0.
Kandy’s Thilina Wijesinghe brought the scores back on level pegging with three points off his boots but the turnaround for the game came from Gayan Weeraratne. (3-3)
The Kandy forwards were getting their act together but lacked the execution in the back line. With Gayan Weeraratne stepping up, the forwards saw their efforts reaping the harvest as he touched down for two back to back tries. (17-3)
The back line made the difference between the two teams as the veteran Fazil Marija used the advantage of the forwards to make space in the middle and sprint through for a try just before the call for lemons. Thilina Wijesinghe despite the conditions got 4/4 for his kicks in the first half as Kandy almost the win.
Half time: Kandy 24 (3T 3C 1P) to Havelock 3 (1P)
Throughout Kandy’s season, they have portrayed themselves to be less aggressive in the second half and taking advantage of the opportunity, in form Nishon Perera touched down for two important tries for Havies as the second half proved to be a more competitive affair.
One of the two tries of Perera were converted and competitiveness intensified with the visiting skipper Dushmantha Priyadarshana barging his way through to score the third.
Read Also: Kandy halts the “Havelock” march again
Kandy’s Thilina Wijesinghe successfully got three more points with a drop goal and Priyadarshana’s try differentiated the two teams by only a converted try (20-27).
With time running out, wise thinking by Fazil Marija got his Kandy team for a celebratory try as he chipped the ball to his far left allowing Richard Dharmapala who received a perfect bounce to touch down. (32-20)
Thilina Wijesinghe missed but the full-time whistle gave Kandy the much awaited Clifford cup title victory to complete their heist for 2017.
Kandy Sports Club thereby took their 20th Clifford Cup title and sign off the season with both trophies in their cabinet.
The player of the match was debated in the commentary box with equal performances from both Gayan Weeraratne and Thilina Wijesinghe and the decision was to award both.
Full-time score: Kandy 32 (4T 3C 1P 1DG) to Havelock’s 20 (3T 1C 1P)
ThePapare Player(s) of the Match – Gayan Weeraratne & Thilina Wijesinghe
Kandy SC – Tries by Gayan Weeraratne (2), Richard Dharmapala, Fazil Marija. Conversions (3), Penalty and Drop goal by Thilina Wijesinghe
Havelock SC – Tries by Nishon Perera (2), Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Conversion and Penalty by Hirantha Perera