Navy SC kicked off the new season with a hard fought win against fierce rivals Army SC 20-14, in their first game of the season in the Dialog Rugby League 2017/18 played at Welisara Navy grounds.
The game was tipped to be a balanced affair even though both teams looked to shrug off rust off their backs. Conditions were perfect for running rugby as overcast skies covered the ground and the rains stayed away.
Navy came into the game minus a few experienced players while Army were short on big name players due to changes in policy.
Read about other opening week fixtures:
Army began on the front foot but however the ever reliant Sailors’ defense held firm in the opening exchanges.
Navy made full use as the momentum which shifted through a penalty from Thilina Weerasinghe. Soon after, Adeesha Weerathunga pounced on an offload from hooker Dulanjana Wijesinghe to score their first try of the season.
Fullback Weerasinghe made no mistakes with both kicks as Navy went to a ten point lead within ten minutes of the game. (Navy 10-00 Army)
Soon after Wijesinghe dotted down to score back to back tries in a game which was forecasted to be a tight affair putting a bit of a cushion between each other.
The hooker was the first to react, picking and going from close quarters to dot down beside the 15 meter line. This time Weerasinghe missed out on adding the extras taking the home team into a 15 point lead. (Navy 15-00 Army)
After a top three finish last year, Navy Sports Club are once again in the Dialog Rugby League title…
Having missed out on points after three visits to the Navy 22 meter, The Army lads knew they needed a piece of brilliance from an experienced player as time was quickly running out on the visitors in the first half.
Watch the Match Replay:
Gayan Salinda foxed everyone watching as he surprisingly tapped a penalty he certainly could have kicked into touch – feeding veteran Asoka Jayalal for him to barged his way through to the white-wash on the fourth line of asking.
Salinda converted from close range to take Army into the break with the momentum at their back and trailing by a single figure total.
Half Time: Navy 15 (2T 1C 1P) lead Army 07 (1T 1C)
Navy put the end of the first half behind them and started as the dominant team however Supun Dilshan was sin binned leaving the home team in a spot of bother.
Numbers did not hinder the home team as Player of the Match with – 1 try & 2 assists – Dulanjana Wijesinghe added to the Sailors lead and punished Army SC further. He pumped his knees with a trademark run down the far touch line beating four defenders and setting up debutant Janith Laksara for his score.
Weerasinghe surprisingly failed with the kick soon after Dilshan returned from the bench, leaving Army two converted tries away from snatching a comical win. (Navy 20-07 Army)
Try scorer Laksara and lock forward Supun Peiris both saw ‘yellow’ for indisciplined rugby, crippling the host and leaving their teammates a nervy few minutes.
Army added to the anxious moments of the Sailors when they scored while their opposition was reduced to thirteen men.
Visiting tight-head, Sugath Nanayakkara picked and stretched out to finish in neat fashion with less than five minutes left on the clock Gayan Salinda did not have a satisfactory day at the office even though his kick made the final few minutes intense. (Navy 20-14 Army)
The resilience of the home team was tested However they starved their opponent from having valuable possession and held on for a win but may have disappointed the coach, having not snatched the bonus point.
Full Time: Navy 20 (3T 1C 1P) beat Army 14 (2T 2C)
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Dulanjana Wijesinghe (Navy Hooker)
Navy – Adeesha Weerathunga 1T, Thilina Weerasinghe 1C 1P, Dulanjana Wijesinghe 1T, Janith Laksara 1T
Bookings (Yellow cards): Janith Laksara, Supun Dilshan, Supun Pieris
Army – Asoka Jayalal 1T, Gayan Salina 2C, Sugath Nanayakkara 1T
Player of the Match Dulanjana Wijesinghe expressed his views on the game “We had a tough game and followed our coaches advice and things worked. Even though some guys left, our youngsters gelled and things went well today”