A last minute try by Heshan Kalhara kept Kandy’s unbeaten tag alive despite the valorous efforts made by CR & FC who went down fighting having led 9-3 at half time.
Full time score: Kandy 22 (3T 2C 1P) to CR & FC 16 (1T 1C 3P)
The Reds from Longden Place put the defending champions on a test at the Racecourse complex this evening under wet conditions. This was the first occasion where Kandy’s instincts were on test; something other opponents weren’t able to accomplish.
Place kicking played key in the first half with no team crossing the try line. Kicking had been a problem for the hill country club in the first few games but with Arshard Jamaldeen’s
inclusion, things turned around but he had quite an unpleasant day. Prince Chamara who made his way back to the team drew first blood off a straight 35-meter penalty in the very first minutes of play. Replying back was Arshad Jamaldeen who brought in the equalizing points for the visitors. (3-3)
Prince Chamara continued his success for the hosts; kicking another distant 40 meter while Jamaldeen second shot at go drifted leftward. With Jamaldeen missing out on another pointer, it was CR & FC who got themselves within kicking distance off a penalty infringement by Kandy minutes before half time. With Chamara’s kick sailing through the posts, the hosts went into lemons leading by 6 points.
This had been the first instance this season that any team was able to lead Kandy Sports Club in at half time but CR & FC could not hold on to their defensive lines in the second half. As CR’s gates loosened up, it was Kandy who took advantage. Stepping his way through the defense was Lavanga Perera who stepped his way through to score under the posts for Kandy. With Jamaldeen not making any error in the straightforward conversion, Kandy had the lead for the first time (10-9).
Lavanga brought in relief for the hosts scoring off another well-executed set –piece to score through the right corner. The conversion didn’t have the direction but a six-point lead was a breather for the visitors. (15-9)
Kandy did all what they could to hold on to their six point lead but CR had other plans in mind for the remainder of the second half. CR enforced a pick and drive strategy, something what they have been using in the past weeks to gain meters and progress forward. Their efforts bore fruit as Sashan Mohamed fiddled his way through the Kandy defense in style to score right under the posts. Sashan’s try and Chamara’s conversion opened the game wide open once again as CR & FC took a single point lead with 15 minutes to go.
With Kandy in desperate need of a comeback, disaster struck the visitors as they saw their skipper Fazil Marija being sent to the naughty chair for a high tackle resulting them to play the remainder of the game sans their skipper. Dissapointment struck the visitors once again as Arshad Jamaldeen missed a crucial 15-meter penalty that would have put his team on the lead. With time running out, it was Kandy’s pack that proved to be the better out of the two as the forwards advanced phase by phase and it was Heshan Kalhara who grasped through the heavy defense to score the prized try. As Jamaldeen made no error in the under the post conversion, Kandy had survived the Red’s scare at the Racecourse complex.
It was one of the best games of the season thus far and Kandy Sports Club was fortunate enough to have survived the CR & FC outfit. The hosts put the defending champions in pressurized situation that tested Kandy’s grit. Due credit should go out to Ishan Noor’s CR & FC outfit for coming up strong and giving out a good fight.
Arshad Jamaldeen who is currently the table leader as the leading the points scorer of the Dialog Rugby League had a bad day at office missing out on the important kicks. That will be an area Kandy will need to focus as the League takes a respite for the holidays.
ThePapare.com’s Man of the Match: Lavanga Perera
Kandy 22 – Tries (2) by Lavanga Perera and Heshan Kalhara
Conversions (2) and Penalty by Arshad Jamaldeen (7)
CR & FC – Try by Sashan Mohemad
Penalties (3) and Conversion by Prince Chamara (11)