Navy overcame a spirited Army team to beat the hosts by a single point in the 4th week of the Dialog Rugby League.
Gayan Salinda of Army kicked the game off in perfect weather conditions for
running rugby at the Race Course International Stadium.
Navy fielded a team without the likes of Nivanka Prasad, Sathya Ranathunga and influential scrum half Richie Dharmapala while Army had their dominant winger Iranga Ariyapala back.
Army, playing as hosts began the game the better out of both teams and the early pressure paid off as Gayan Salinda kicked over a penalty as Navy was penalised for entering incorrectly into the ruck. (Army 3-0 Navy)
Navy drew level soon after as a knock-on by Army proved costly. Navy competed well at the scrum and a drop goal by Chanaka Chandimal drew the scores level. (Army 3-3 Navy)
The sailors snatched the momentum from then on and scored through Lee Keegal. A penalty kicked to touch was stopped from going out by the Army winger only managing to knock the ball on. Fly-half Chandimal sent Keegal a slick short ball. The centre stepped his way through the first line of defence and bumped off the cover defender as he went round to score under the post. Thilina Weerasinghe made no mistake from close range to put the visitors ahead. (Army 3-10 Navy)
Army did not lose their heads and kept the visitors at bay even though they trailed by 7.
Army struck against the run of play as outside centre Sanjeewa Hapugaskubura scored a runaway try. Second row Supun Peiris executed a good tackle as Navy won a centre field scrum. Scrum half Harsha Maduranga broke and made a scintillating off load to Dhanushka Perera as he made valuable meters towards the Army try line. From the resulting ruck, Chandimal took his time and threw a long pass but it was received by opposition centre Sanjeewa Hapugaskubura who sprinted away joyfully to score beside the post for Army and make it a two- point ball game with the conversion to come. Gayan Salinda made no mistake as he converted and levelled the game. (Army 10-10 Navy)
Navy clawed their way back into the lead as Army was penalised for a hand in the ruck. Thilina Weerasinghe lined up and converted with ease to take a three point lead in the game. (Army 10-13 Navy)
The three point lead soon turned into a ten point lead for Navy as Dulanjana Wijesinghe bumped his way over for the Sailors second try in the game. Army was penalised for a high tackle, Navy flanker Kanchana Perera reacted first as he taped and sent over Dulanjana Wijesinghe. Thilina converted as Navy went into the break with a handy ten point lead. (Army 10-20 Navy)
Half Time: Army 10 (1T, 1C, 1P) – Navy 20 (2T, 2C, 1P, 1 DG)
Thilina Weerasinghe kicked off the second half. The next eighteen minutes of the game did not yield any points even though Navy fought hard to snatch the game. Army was facing a ten point deficit which meant they were chasing the game from the start of the second half.
Just as the first half, Army struck against the run of play as last year’s Captain Ashoka Jayalal crashed over to score the first points of the second half. Army won a scrum as the Sailor’s replacement scrum half Suranga Pushpakumara knocked on.
The home side strung a few magnificent phases together as they gained valuable meters. Army scrum half found the big tight head charging forward as he crashed over to cut the Navy lead to five points with the kick to come. Gayan Salinda converted to add a further two points. (Army 17-20 Navy)
From the second try onwards it was all Army possession as the men fromRathmalana tightened their grip on the game.
Excellent ball retention proved vital as Army surprised the viewers with yet another score of their own. Army collected the restart and attacked as winger Iranga Ariyapala found himself at the right place at the right time as he collected a basketball pass to dive over the white wash. Salinda converted from a tough angle to take the lead in the game. (Army 24-20 Navy)
The game was heading into a fiery final five minutes as Navy was chasing the win to keep their unbeaten tag alive. On the other hand Army lacked in their kicking department as they were found wanting in their clearing kicks.
Buddima Piyarathne made a sensational run from his own half into the Army 22. Two phases later Chandimal kicked a well weighted kick pass to the wing, as Iranga Ariyapala fumbled his effort, Keegal pounced on the loose ball and dived over to snatch a single point lead for the Sailors with the conversion to come. Thilina Weerasinghe missed his conversion with three minutes to go and the game lay in the balance with Navy having a single point lead. (Army 24-25 Navy)
Navy kicked the restart deep into the Army half making the host to attack from inside their own half. The Army attack worked their way up to the 50m line but a fumble meant referee Rankothge blew for full time handing Navy a dramatic single point win.
Full Time: Army 24 (3T, 3C, 1P) – Navy 25 (3T, 2C, 1P, 1DG)
Thepapare.com Player of the match: Chanaka Chandimal
Navy Coach Mothilala Jayathilake expressed his views to ThePapre.com.
When asked where Navy went wrong he mentioned ‘Actually inside our own half we played the ball too much and we missed few tries in the second half that’s why I think the match was so close’
When asked about the new faces in action Jayathilake said ‘all changes were due to injuries and not a tactical move”
Tries: Sanjeewa Hapugaskubura, Ashoka Jayalal, Iranga Ariyapala,
Gayan Salinda 3 Conversions 1 Penalty
Tries: Lee Keegal 2, Dulanjana Wijesinghe
Thilina Weerasinghe 2 Conversions 1 Penalty
Chanaka Chandimal 1 Drop Goal
Match Replay – Army SC v Navy SC – Dialog Rugby 16/17