The 5th game of the Nippon Paint Club Rugby League 2023/24 took place between Air Force SC and Navy SC on the 08th of December at the Air Force Rugby Grounds in Ratmalana. In a game that went right down the wire, Air Force SC registered a thrilling 17-15 win over the sailors.
The game began with an early penalty which was awarded to Air Force, and Gayantha Iddamalgoda made no mistakes in order to give his team the early lead (AFSC 03 – 00 NSC)
However, Navy Sports Club managed to hit back thanks to a try from Stevan Sansoni, the first of the game. Skipper unfortunately missed the conversion to keep their lead just to two points. (AFSC 03 – 05 NSC)
However, after the try, the Sailors made a mess out of the restart kick by knocking the ball forward, which gave Air Force the opportunity to get deep inside the Navy half without much trouble. Air Force received a penalty soon after and a good territorial kick from Nadun Gunasekara took them to the 5m territory. And after a good rolling maul and some hard hits from the forward, tighthead prop Nirmal Wickramasinghe went over the line to give his team the lead again. Iddamalgoda converted the try to increase their lead to five points. (AFSC 10 – 05 NSC)
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Just before halftime, Navy, after a lot of close calls finally managed to find points after getting awarded with a penalty try. Navy SC toiled hard and came very close towards the try line, and then decided to work the ball to the right of the field. Madushanka Amith, who was last receiver, looked well on his way to a try, but a high shot from Air Force halfback Kavisha Kaluarachchi paved the way for the penalty try. To make matters worse, Kaluarachchi got injured after making the tackle and he received a yellow card as well. As the Sailors received the full seven points, they had a slender lead heading into the break. (AFSC 10 – 12 NSC)
Half Time :- Air Force SC 10 – 12 Navy SC
To begin the second half, Air Force conceded a penalty and Navy Skipper Thilina Weerasinghe added the 3 points with a successful kick to increase their lead. (AFSC 10 – 15 NSC)
The sailors managed to hold on to the lead until the last 15 minutes but Air Force, with the support of their home crowd getting louder with each metre gained, managed to find a gap in the Navy defence by the barest of margins to score the try, which evened things up. Replacement Prop Shamika Kawshan was the try scorer for Air Force. Iddamalgoda, who was very good with his kicking duties, made no mistake and converted the try to give his team a slender two point lead. (AFSC 17 – 15 NSC)
After the try, Air Force put on a fantastic show of defensive excellence as Navy were found short of the try line multiple times. With rain pouring down in the last few minutes, it made life harder for the Sailors as a handling error in the last move gave the ball back to Air Force, and the referee signalled for the final whistle.
Parakrama Rathnayake the Skipper for Air Force SC, was adjudged Black Knight Player of the Match for his phenomenal performance with the throw ins at the lineout, and some good hard hitting runs. He played a key role in scrummaging for the home team as well.
Full Time : Air Force SC 17 (2T 2C 1P) beat Navy SC 15 (2T 1C 1P)
Black Knight Player of the Match : Parakrama Rathnayake (Air Force SC)
Air Force SC : Gayantha Iddamalgoda 2C 1P, Shamika Kawshan 1T, Nirmal Wickramasinghe 1T
Navy SC : Thilina Weerasinghe 1P, Stevan Sansoni 1T, 1 Penalty Try