Kandy Sports Club commenced their title defence with a scrappy win over the improving Air Force outfit in the Dialog Rugby League game played at Air Force grounds in Ratmalana. At half time Kandy led 14 points to 07 and at the end of the final whistle Kandy won the game 28(4T,4C) points to 19 (3T,2C)
Hot and humid conditions at picturesque Air Force grounds at Ratmalana with perfect underfoot conditions was ideal for Kandy backs to start the Dialog Rugby season. Air Force on the other hand wanted to repeat their heroics of 2016.
Air Force SC had one of their greatest performances today…
Kandy just needed 34 seconds to open scoring where Thilina Wijesinghe created the try by collecting the loose ball and making some valuable yards and committing three Air Force defenders towards him and offloaded to Vishvamithra Jayasinghe to score. Wijesinghe nailed a perfect kick under windy conditions. (Air Force 00-07 Kandy)
Kandy had few opportunities in attack but couldn’t capitalize and Wijesinghe’s attempt at three points was not successful with where the ball hit the left upright and Air Force defince was stable after conceding early.
It took more than 30 minutes for the next scoring opportunity where airmen gained meters using their forwards with more than 10 phases of play and finally half back Nuwan Perera opted to use their backs as Soorya Krishan stepped in and went past the Kandy defence to score under the post. Perera managed to kick the easy conversion to bring the game to a deadlock at 7 all.
Kandy changed their half back Heshan Janson and brought in experience campaigner Roshan Weerarathna and it paid dividends straight away when the Kandy forwards slowly made few strides towards the line and Weerarathna saw the Air Force defence line was open and distributed the ball to the playmaker Nigel Ratwatte who’s timely offload to the skipper Richard Dharamapala saw him scoring under post in the last move of the first Half.
Half Time – Air Force 07 (1T,1C) – Kandy 14 (2T,2C)
Airmen had the perfect start to the second half as their forward pushed Kandy defence by forming a maul and Fijian Raduva Kausooo collected the ball from the maul and went over. Gayantha Iddamalgoda bisected the upright from a difficult angle to equalize the score again.
Read More: Foreigners back despite protests
Kandy hit back again in the similar way as the Airmen by using the forwards and Nigel Ratwatte made long pass to the skipper Dharamapala and his pace was too good for the airmen as Dharamapala scored his second try of the game. Wijesinghe added the extras. (Air Force 14-21 Kandy)
Kandy made more handling errors than Air Force and one error costed them a try when a pass from Weerarathna was spilt by Wijesinghe on the try line and Air Force flanker Rumesh Wasantha collected ball and scored a scrappy try to close down the gap to two points while Iddamalgoda missed his conversion.
Danushka Ranjan finally made an impact on the game as he ran past the Air Force defence line and Roshan Weerarathna finished the move through with a dummy pass from which he found the gap and went over to increase their lead. Wijesinghe added the important two point. (Air Force 19-28 Kandy)
Airmen had more possession in the final 20 minutes in the second half but Kandy defense showed that championship are won through defence as they put on a solid defensive effort to clinch the victory.
Full Time – Air Force 19 (3T,2C) – Kandy 28 (4T,4C)
- ThePapare.com’s Player of the match – Roshan Weerarathna (Kandy SC)
- Match Referee – Dinka Peiris
Kandy skipper Richard Dharmapala expressed his thoughts on the victory “Air Force gave us good fight which we didn’t expect but because of the first match we struggled. We made a lot of handling errors and due to that we had to defend a lot and we did it very well in the last 20 minutes to get a bonus point victory”
Air Force: Tries from Soorya Krishan, Raduva Kausooo and Rumesh Wasantha Conversions by Nuwan Perera and Gayantha Iddamalgoda
Kandy: Tries from Vishvamithra Jayasinghe, Roshan Weerarathna and Richard Dharamapala (2) Conversion by Thilina Wijesinghe (4)