You don’t actually need 80 minutes to make an impact as a player in a match. 40 minutes is more than enough to do the trick.
Actually 33 minutes. That’s exactly how long Mithun Hapugoda spent on the park in the Havelock-CR & FC clash to bring a win to the Park club boys.
It was half time at Havelock Park and the Pink Jerseys had not had the best 40 minutes to kick things off. It was a 7-all stalemate but the Havies had bigger problems to counter. Their main artillery, the rolling maul had been conquered and put down by CR on three occasions.
Two of their key men had to be taken out and Azmir Fajudeen, their rolling maul driver, was struggling on one knee.
Coach Sanath Martis has a reputation of going for bold tactical moves with any team he manages. His gambles have worked extremely well for the side, more often than not, in the past few weeks. Although not there in person, Martis had sent clear cut instructions on when to play the Hapugoda card.
Hapugoda, with 21 on his back, comes into play with a smile on his face. The rest of the players don’t seem like they can afford to waste energy on a smile after all what has gone down in the 1st half.
With years of experience under his belt, he knows exactly what needs to be done. First, he goes to his forwards who have been dealt with severe blows. Later he speaks to his captain at 10.
Last he goes out to his compatriot at #15, Rizah Mubarak. There seems to be a sudden change in body language in the Havies players. It takes just one small chat and one pat on the back to change everything.
He makes a direct impact right from the kickoff. He runs, steps, passes and kicks. CR had adjusted themselves to play to Vimukthi Rahula, a budding #9 but this man makes the entire CR team confused.
The confused CR makes way for the speedster to do his job. Moments later, Mithun Hapugoda is seen touching down a wonderful line break off Lasindu Ishan. Havelock has broken the deadlock!
He doesn’t stop there. Continuing the momentum, then came try #2 as he wiggled, jumped and stepped past the CR & FC back line.
Our coach uses me as a replacement player in the second half. I like to play that role for the team as it gives me a whole new challenge
However in the build-up to the final ten minutes, the surplus of adrenaline finds Hapugoda off to the naughty chair for verbal abuse.
It was the spur of the moment and the words came out. I am indeed sorry to the assistant referee
Just last week, he drove the Havelock side to a much needed 28-26 win against defending title holders Kandy Sports Club, winning their first game against the side in 4 years.
Continuing his form, the nippy scrumhalf does a repeat of last week’s stunt this week to see his team win their 13th game in the season.
At the end of the day, CR & FC’s inability to counter one single player cost them the game.
It takes a lot of perseverance to make a comeback after a series of injuries. At a time when nobody gave hopeful prospects of a return for the 30-year-old, it was his mindset that changed the whole thing.
Ever since Hapugoda joined the Havelock halves combo, things have been different for the Pink jerseys. The team that had a reputation of playing with their forwards suddenly shifted gears to play an all-round game, making best use of their explosive back line.
The 2019 season is still not over and Mithun Hapugoda has one last show at Havelock Park to perform next weekend!
We came with a challenge to this league and we will go to the final week also with a plan and hoping that we could come up with a win