Navy defend their way to victory

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Navy SC continued with their fine recent form when they claimed a hard-fought 29-14 victory over the Soldiers at Rathmalana in the Dialog Rugby League.

In a highly entertaining game, in which both sides employed expansive game-plans, Army will be kicking themselves as they held the upper-hand for large periods but a superb first half fightback from the Sailors proved too strong for the home team in the end.

Navy SC would fully value their win as they outscored the soldiers 4 tries to two with Richie Dharmapala leading the way with a deserved brace. Navy showed their intent from the outset by running the ball from all areas of the field.

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However, Army were guilty as they conceded too many turnovers in an abject first half in which they conceded 26 points, only scoring 14 points.

Also, they struggled to deal with Richie’s up and unders and Buddhima Piyarathne’s aerial prowess.

The result means the Sailors are now in joint second place on the Dialog Rugby League points table although that situation could change depending on the performances of the other club sides later in the round. Meanwhile, the Soldiers are still in the 5th position.

After some nervous early exchanges the first try came after just five minutes. With the Soldiers stringing together the rolling maul bearing down on the try-line, Army hooker Aravinda Karunaratne played a nice long throw in as their locks went over at the back of a well-set driving maul after the Navy had given away a series of penalties, Dhanushka Pushpakumara gleefuly accepting the gift, giving Army an early 7-0 lead after five minutes with Gayan Salinda slotting through the penalty.

Soon after the try, Navy spent large periods camped inside the Army half, and they were rewarded for their dominance when Mohommed Absal went over, after Navy launched an attack from a back of the scrum close to the halfway line. The ball was shifted to Thanuja Malimbada, who threw an inside pass to the on-rushing Absal, who cut the Army defence to shreds with a superb line break before diving over for Navy’s opening try. Chathura Senevirathne added the extras taking the kicking duties from his absent captain Thilina Weerasinghe. (Navy SC 07-07 Army SC)

The rest of the half was a dour affair characterised by several unforced errors and poor discipline from both sides. The next five minutes was a even more frantic affair as Navy tried to gain the lead.

  • Winning important turnovers, Navy's Radeesha Seneviratne played a key role in the game

However, Navy were slowly getting into the game and evenually got their reward on the half-hour mark courtesy of a Richie Dharmapala try from the back of a ruck, he played it smart playing advantage as Army strayed offside on defence. The resulting penalty was taken quickly by Radeesha Senevirathne who took it meters short, before Richie dived over the blind fringe. Chathura Senevirathne made a crucial mistake with the conversion, giving Navy a 12-7 lead after 15 minutes.

Match center

It was yet again Navy who scored next after a beautiful burst from Absal before the fly-half produced a classy one-handed offload to set Radessha Senevirathne clear on his way over the whitewash under the posts. Chathura converted to take the visitors in to a 19-07 lead with ten minutes to go before half-time.

Army did not take long to respond as four minutes later, Dhanushka Pushpakumara barged over for their first try from close quarters after Thirusha Adhikaram and Sugath Nanayakkara impressed with strong carries in the build-up. Gayan Salinda added the extras. (Navy SC 19-14 Army SC)

With seconds to go before the half-time hooter, the Navy put together a slick move with Musheen Faleel getting the offload away in midfield for Radeesha Senevirathne who conjured up a magnificent try, weighting his defence ahead perfectly, outsprinting the Army full-back Gayan Salinda to dot down. Chathura Senevirathne’s conversion saw the visitors trailing by 12 points as the referee blew his whistle for half-time.

Half Time: Navy SC SC 26(4T 3C) – 14(2T 2C) Navy SC

Kicking things off Navy were on the backfoot early in the second half when, four minutes after the restart, Charith Silva was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Sudaraka Dikkumbura.

Mohammed Absal (Middle) is tackled by Sudaraka Dikkumbura(R)

With a man down, the visitors were always going to struggle, but surprisingly their defensive unit held on for the half without conceding a single point.

Army continued to attack but creating plenty of chances, they were kept at bay by a resilient defensive effort from the Sailors for the rest of the half.

Navy however finished stronger and sealed their win in the 80th minute when Buddhima Piyarathne rounded off a flowing move in the left-hand corner and although the Soldiers tried gallantly to stop the penalty, all they succeeded was conceding two yellow cards in quick succession. As Chathura  Senevirathne kicked things goodbye with a late penalty to seal victory.

Full Time: Navy SC 29(4T 3C 1P) – 14(2T 2C) Army SC

Score Breakdown
Army SC – Dhanushka Pushpakumara 2T, Gayan Salinda 2C
Navy SC – Radeesha Senevirathne 2T, Mohommed Absal 1T, Richie Dharmapala 1T, Chathura Senevirathne 3C 1P.

Yellow Cards
Charith Silva (Navy SC), Sugath Nanayakkara, Sudaraka Dikkumbura (Army SC)