Navy battled past injury hit Air Force to win 29-21 at Welisara in the Dialog Rugby league and consolidate their second spot on the table.
Hosts Navy had to make do without centre Lee Keegal through injury while winger Saliya Handapangoda was rested. Kosala Thisera retained his place from last week while Supun Dilshan slotted into win.
Air Force made five changes that saw four in the forward pack miss out along with influential centre Charith Seneviratne. Captain Gayantha Iddamalgoda moved one place inside to scrum half as Nuwan Perera filled in the flyhalf shirt.
Thilina Weerasinghe kicked off amidst sunny conditions even as the chilly breeze blew across the ground.
Photos of the Navy SC v Air Force SC – Dialog Rugby League 2016/17 | #Match 34
Air Force began with vigor and stunned the viewers as Gayantha iddamalgoda scored in the second minute. Nuwan Perera of the visitors cleared the ball through a box kick, Navy winger spilled the bouncing ball as Iddamalgoda was rewarded for his good chase. Nuwan Perera failed to add the extras. (Navy 00-05 Air Force)
Nuwan Perera was at hand to slot over from in front as Navy found themselves in a mini crisis early in the game. (Navy 00-08 Air Force)
More points were to follow in the first few exchanges of the game as Navy scored twice in two visits to the Air Force 22. Chanaka Chandimal was at hand to dot down on both occasions off two Navy rolling mauls. Thilina converted both tries with ease as Navy headed into the lead for the first time. (Navy 14-08 Air Force)
Both teams switched off but neither managed to breakthrough as twenty three minutes yielded no points in a game which promised much in the beginning.
The Navy fullback, Thilina Weerasinghe added a penalty as the half drew to a close. (Navy 17-08 Air Force)
Half Time: Navy 17 (2T, 2C, 1P) lead Air Force 08 (1T, 2P)
Nuwan Perera kicked off with the game within touching distance for the visitors.
Navy put the foot down as usual and scored a mouth watering try off a scrum. Dinusha Fernando collected a sumptuous grubber through by Chanaka Chandimal. Fernando kept the ball alive, offloading to Chandimal as he found inside man Kosala Thisera and the centre dotted down under the post. Thilina made no mistake with the kick. (Navy 24-08 Air Force)
Try scorer Kosala Thisera saw yellow as Perera pulled back three points as Dhanushka Perera was penalized for collaring Gayantha Iddamalgoda. (Navy 24-11 Air Force)
Navy did not let the tempo drop, scoring straight after conceding points. Dulanjana Perera was in the right place at the right time to score the bonus point try as he collected a cut out pass by Chandimal as he tapped and went off what looked to be a harsh penalty against the visitors. Thilina failed with the touch line conversion as the game looked to be getting out of the reach of the Air man. (Navy 29-11 Air Force)
Nuwan Perera of Air Force pulled back a penalty for the visitors as discipline cost the hosts. (Navy 29-14 Air Force)
Navy was reduced further a man as flanker Kanchana Perera saw yellow for an argument with the referee.
With time running out on the visitors, replacement scrum half Isuru Jayarathna scored a consolation try as he grounded the ball against the cushion displaying good game knowledge. Nuwan Perera converted through a drop goal hoping for one last attack, only for the referee to blow for full time. (Navy 29-21 Air Force)
Full time: Navy 29 (4T, 3C, 1P) beat Air Force 21 (2T, 1C, 3P)
Thepapare.com Player of the match: Chanaka Chandimal (Navy flyhalf)
Player of the game, Chandimal expressed his elation following the game.
“First things first, i want to thank our lads for playing well out there but we had plenty of mistakes out there. We went out of our pattern failing to stick to it that’s why we conceded many penalties in the game.
I am satisfied with my performance but i think i could’ve done better. I failed with a few kicks from hand and if we are to have any chance of beating Kandy next week, i need to brush up on my kicking game.
To win next week we have to brush up our kicking game because they (Kandy) have a good back line and they will counter attack from any part of the field. And also we need to work on some aspects at the breakdown and if so we need to polish them, we will be able to put up a fight in Kandy.
Tries: Chanaka Chandimal 2, Kosala Thisera, Dulanjana Wijesinghe
Thilina Weerasinge 3 conversions and a penalty.
Tries: Gayantha Iddamalgoda, Isuru Jayarathna
Nuwan Perera 1 conversion and 3 penalties