The last fixture of week 2 in the Nippon Paint Club Rugby League 2023 took place today at Havelock Park between the hosts Havies and CH & FC. The visitors, who were searching for the first win of the tournament, overcame the home side in muddy and slippery conditions with a scoreline of 20-13.
Playing under lights and consistent rain, which was present along with the slippery underfoot conditions, it was not easy for both sides to handle the ball. A lot of mistakes came into play from CH and Havies during the first 35 minutes, and there were no points in the game. But with 5 minutes left for halftime, the visitors finally managed to find the try line. It all started with a lineout from the halfway mark and a little break from the number 8, Janith Laksara. Then skipper Avantha Lee, Hirusha Nethmina and Janindu Dilshan took them towards the 22m territory, and Havelock conceded a penalty for not releasing the tackler. CH didn’t opt for points but instead went for the territorial kick, which proved to be the correct option as they recovered the ball from a scrappy lineout from the 5m line, and Gihan Madushanka did the rest. Nethmina added the two extra points as they went into halftime with the lead (CH 07 – 00 HSC)
Half Time : CH & FC 07 – 00 Havelock SC
Five minutes into the second half, the hosts finally got the opportunity to score after receiving a penalty inside the 22m line, and Samuel Maduwantha added the three points (CH 07 – 03 HSC)
But just a couple of minutes later, Havelock conceded a penalty for going off their feet during the breakdown, and CH went for points as Nethmina successfully kicked it through from a distance of over 40 metres to restore their lead to seven (CH 10 – 03 HSC)
Havies received the opportunity to crawl their way back into the game when Prasath Madushanka of CH received a Yellow card. Janith Chandimal found some good metres from the penalty they received by taking his team towards the 5m line and a lovely throw-in to the middle, and some good hard-hitting runs from the forwards ended with Janidu Fernando finding the whitewash. Chandimal unfortunately missed a straightforward kick as they still trailed by two points (CH 10 – 08 HSC)
As the clock kept ticking and the game was getting towards the last 10-minute mark, an inside pass from Chanaka Chandimal of Havelock was intercepted by Dinesh de Silva, the replacement fly-half of CH & FC, and he went all the way underneath the post, which made converting easier. Nethmina made sure there were no errors as he added the two extra points to increase their lead to nine points (CH 17 – 08 HSC)
With less than 5 minutes to go, CH & FC received another opportunity to increase their tally as Havies were penalised for holding on. Nethmina continued his excellent day with the kicking boots as they reached the 20-point mark (CH 20 – 08 HSC)
As the clock kept getting closer and closer towards the final whistle, Havies finally produced their best play of the game. Shehan Dias found the break and gave away the inside pass to Dinupa Senaviratna, and they worked the line from right to left to find ample space for Chandimal to score a try in a race-against-time situation. Havies didn’t go for the conversion in hopes of preserving the time remaining, but it was too little too late for them (CH 20 – 13 HSC)
After going down against the defending champions last week, CH needed this win badly, and this away win will boost their confidence for the upcoming weeks. For Havies, they’ll be disappointed in losing this game and will have to regroup quickly going into week 3.
Hirusha Nethmina, the fly-half of CH & FC, was awarded the Black Knight Player of the Match for bringing in his A-game as a kicker under harsh conditions, where he scored 10 crucial points.
Full Time : CH & FC 20 (2T 2C 2P) beat Havelock SC 13 (2T 1P)
Black Knight Player of the Match : Hirusha Nethmina (CH & FC)
- CH & FC : Hirusha Nethmina 2C 2P, Dinesh de Silva 1T, Gihan Madushanka 1T
- Havelock SC : Janith Chandimal 1T, Janidu Fernando 1T, Samuel Maduwantha 1P