In week 7 the much anticipated traditional rivalry between Kandy and CR in Kandy, unfortunately did not deliver in its classic splendor. The Rajapakse derby turned out to be a one-sided affair as Navy trounced Army at Race Course.
The Sharks secured their second win over Air Force, whilst Police were too strong for CH in the second half.
Army v Navy
This game was expected to be a big tussle but ultimately ended up as a one side battle. Though Yoshitha and Rohitha Rajapaksa have played in opposite sides in the 7’s format, this was their first clash in the longer game. There was no quarter given on the field as Yoshitha did not think twice about bringing out the big tackles on his little brother.
Joeli Lutumailagi dominated most of the game breaking the Army defense on a number of occasions giving the sailors heaps of go-forward ball. Rupeni Caucau the Army center unfortunately did not make too much of an impact during the last two weeks although he is a phenomenal player as seen when he played for Fiji and Toulouse (French top 14). The big man still seems to be struggling to find his form win the camouflage jersey. Navy after scoring 17 points with less than quarter game done, Army had a great chance with their first attacking move when Manoj Silva made a break close in their 22m and darted down almost 30metres. Unfortunately he failed to use his supporting player Kavindu Perera who had the pace and space to burn the Navy defense.
Prince Chamara on the other hand had a very promising start in his club rugby debut but has lost his rhythm with his place kicking. He seems to be rushing his kicks, using no more than 13-15 of the allotted 90 seconds. If the youngster can focus and use the additional time to gather himself he may improve his conversion ratio and in turn help Army keep the scorers busy.
Dean Warren also had an outstanding game along with Navari Eramasi. The two former Lions wingers Vishwamithra Jayasinghe and Dinusha Chathuranga were the most promising for Navy as they seem to have regained some much needed form. Both wingers scored well-deserved tries. Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Danushka Perera along with Sajith Saranga and Henry Terrence did a remarkable job in the forwards positions. Navy’s returning playmaker Chanaka Chandimal was however ThePapare.com man of the match for his out-standing performance in pulling the strings with almost mastery. He was crucial on giving navy go forward ball and for the first time this year made Navy look like a champion team.
Navy coach Leonard De Zilva was well pleased with his team’s performance and stated that “the boys are now well gelled and motivated, they know what to do, simply play as champions” certainly Navy have got the momentum of the champions but it will not going to decide only by this performance as Havelock’s are fresh from a bye and hosting Navy under lights this Saturday will be another Humdinger.
Talking Points : Rajapaksa brothers collision – Visvamithra’s fine run – Prince kicking needs improve – Chamdimal’s return
Police v CH
The CH&FC Defense was decimated in the second half which eventually cost them big. The Police SC play-maker Apisai Nagaliva was well marked all through the first-half. The Fijian attempted many a 7’s move to fox CH but found no way through in the first period.
Rimzy Jamaldeen found his form as he nailed four penalties in the first half for a 12 – 03 lead in favor of the red stripes. Hamza Hassen the Hooker played as a No 8 in the attacking scrum which gave CH some much needed impetus in attack.
Police showed some great character in completely turning the game on its head in the second half running in 4 tries. It all started with a scrum where Apisai moved into center for the first time in this game.
As in the above graphic, Apisai foxed the opposite 12 & 13 with his running angle and with Sooriarachi supporting to go over for his second try this season. Heshan Gunarathne (Gunty) the Police winger was sensational as he made some great steps, yards on the wing and was solid under the high ball.
CH was guilty of complacency and a lack of concentration in the second half but the way Police switched gears would demoralize any team. Nevertheless, CH scored a consolation try and had one more chance from a break down as skipper Radeesha Senavirathna collected the ball at first receiver with both CH foreigners on his left along with the wing giving CH a four on two overlap. The entire stadium heard the booming voices of the foreigners begging for the pill but Senevirathne took it upon himself eventually conceding a turn over.
Talking Points : Apisai the game changer – CH needs to concentrate 80 mins – Gunty hints at national selectors
Kandy v CR
Another game where we thought will go in full flurry but ended up a dead rubber. Despite Kandy winning CR&FC gained a much needed wanted losing bonus. It was only a 7 – 0 for Kandy in the first half with an individual through the veteran Fazil Marija. Marija seems to have a knack of scoring when he goes up against the reds and he lived up to his reputation running in two tries for the former champions.
However, the CR forwards were a bit unorganized in defense particularly off lineout and driving mauls. Kandy sucked in 4 CR defenders on the fringe of the lineout giving Roshan Weerarathne the space to put Marija into.
With Gayan Weerarathne, Anurudda Wilwara or Christopher Cloete who is the current highest try scorer in the league, all sidelined due to injuries Kandy will be happy tocome away with the win. Kandy will now have a week off in order to replenish their ranks and rehabilitate their injured players.
Although CR scored two late tries it seems they have lost the spark in their playing. Their play maker Robbie Malneek is try- less in the last two games, Kanchana Ramanayaka is still in a fine form but he needs more support from the players around him. This week CR will play their Derby game against CH for mid-table supremacy.
Talking Points : Kandy trio injury – CR losing bonus point – Kanchana’s fine form
Sharks v Air Force
With two minutes silence observed as a mark of respect to the Airmen who died in Friday’s air crash. Air-force looked to honor their fallen with their first win for the season. It was a see-saw battle as the Sharks secured their second win for the season with the return of Coach Nilfer Ibrahim after coaching Lanka Lions in Dubai.
Both teams used a kicking game testing wind at the Air Force grounds in Rathmalana. The hosts got the first points on the table with a losing bonus point. Vilikesa Koilage the foreign recruit for the Air Force has played 3 games and scored 3 tries which means Air force needs more time to gel as a unit. They certainly have the potential to finish 6th or 7th in the league if they can up their game in the coming weeks.
Wagavulagi Emori was threatening once again for the sharks with his running speed and unstoppable power. He also made some diving tackles which was pleasing to see. Amjad Buksh used his experience well at half back to control the game well. The Sharks are currently in the 7th place and needs to pile in a bit more effort in order to finish in the top 5 at the end of the season which is what their target should be.
Talking Points : Coach Nilfer is back – Emori’s attack and defense – Vilikesa Koilagi a threat