Air Force edge out Army in a slobber knocker of a game

Nippon Paint Club Rugby League 2023/24

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Nippon Paint Club Rugby League 2023/24

Air Force SC hosted Army SC in the week 06 opening clash of the Nippon Paint Rugby League 2023/24 at the Air Force Rugby Grounds in Ratmalana. In a game that went right down the wire, Airmen managed to hold onto a 3-point buffer to clinch the W.

Air Force received the opportunity to open their account just in the 03rd minute of the game when the Army was penalised for a tackler not releasing infringement. Air Force opted to go with the sensible option and went for points as Gayantha Iddamalgoda kicked the penalty through (AFSC 03 – 00 ASC)

In the 14th minute of the game, Army was penalised again, this time for a line-off-side infringement. As the Air Force missed out on a penalty kick during the earlier penalty, this time, they decided to go for the territorial gaining kick. Iddamalgoda took them close towards the whitewash with the kick. From the lineout, the Airmen went for the rolling maul, and after gaining some meters, they took the ball out and persisted in gaining yardage with their forwards. Ultimately, Air Force number 08 Shashika Fernando crossed the try line for the first 5-pointer of the game. Iddamalgoda converted as their lead reached double digits (AFSC 10 – 00 ASC)

It’s fair to say that the Air Force dominated the proceedings during the first 30 minutes of the game. This was evident as it took the Army around 25 minutes to have an attacking chance in the Air Force territory. The unforced errors from the Army also played a part in Airmen having the upper hand. During the 34th minute, the Army received a penalty, and skipper Ashan Bandara went for the territory gainer. From the line out that followed, the Army worked the ball towards the right side of the field and continued to push in that direction. After a few phases, the soldiers changed direction and passed the ball from right to left of the field and the Army second rows Nalaka Maduranga and Nalan Premanath found the try line in a combined effort as the latter touched down. Chamath Fernando converted the try with a fabulous kick from a hard angle (AFSC 10 – 07 ASC)

In the dying minutes of the first half, a crooked throw from a line out by Air Force in their half paved the way for the visitors to inject pressure on the hosts. After taking the scrum, the soldiers searched for options using their speedsters, but none were found. Then Army skipper Bandara produced a moment of brilliance when he fended off the first Air Force player and used his lateral running skills with a lovely angling run to his left right in between the two remaining defenders to score another try, this time underneath the posts. Fernando converted this with ease as out of nowhere. Army was on top in the game going into halftime (AFSC 10 – 14 ASC)

Half Time :- Air Force SC 10 – 14 Army SC

06 minutes into the second half, the Air Force managed to enter the 22m territory of the Army after receiving a penalty. But the soldiers managed to turn it over. Unfortunately for the visitors, the get-out-of-jail kick from their own 22m territory by Manoj Kumara went out on the full, which resulted in the Air Force getting right back to an advantageous position with the line out. From the line out, Air Force worked the ball towards the right, and after some hard hits from the forwards, their second row-Nishan Peiris, managed to find his way over the try line. Iddamalgoda converted the try to make it a 3-point lead (AFSC 17 – 14 ASC)

With 30 minutes to go after the Air Force took the lead, Army SC had a lot of opportunities as the majority of the play took place inside the half of the Air Force. But the soldiers failed to make inroads in any of those opportunities as costly knocks forward prevented them from getting the job done. Army knocked the ball forward at least 5 to 6 times in the last 15-20 minutes. Air Force also made the same mistake of knocking the ball forward in their half, but to their credit, the defensive line stood firm and didn’t let the Army off the hook.

The last effort of the Army also went begging as they were penalised, and Ishara Madushan kicked the ball out for Air Force to register a three-point win. Even though the result went their way, the chances of the Air Force making it to the top 4 is significantly less and for the Army, it’s game over.

Shashika Fernando, the number 08 for Air Force SC, was adjudged Black Knight Player of the Match for his goliath-like effort with the ball in hand. He scored a try and played a huge part in gaining meters, as the Army had to spend at least 3 players just to put him down.

Air Force SC 17 (2T 2C 1P) beat Army SC 14 (2T 2C)

Black Knight Player of the Match :- Shashika Fernando (Air Force SC)

Points Breakdown

Air Force SC – Shashika Fernando 1T, Nishan Peiris 1T, Gayantha Iddamalgoda 1P 2C

Army SC – Nalaka Maduranga 1T, Ashan Bandara 1T, Chamath Fernando 2C