The fourteen-man Air Force were held scoreless in the second half as Host Navy Sports Club defeated the Visitors 24-14 to record an unconvincing first win of the Dialog Rugby League.
The Hosts Navy Sports Club stepped out on their home turf with three changes, all of them being in the forwards as Amith Gunasinghe, Supun Peiris and Chamith Madushanka entered the run on XV. The visitors made two changes in the forwards as Nuwan Perera partnered with Gayantha Iddamalgoda, with the 9 being moved from the wing to half back.
Both teams entered with everything to play for, as neither were able to record a single win in 2019 when they aimed to end their torrid run.
The game got off to a rapid start; however, neither team was able to break down their opponent until the 14th minute.
The Navy upped their game on their home paddock, leaving their opponents in the dust as Mushin Faleel gave a much needed push forward before Charith Silva found the whitewash to break the deadlock. Chathura Senevirathne missed the conversion in uncharacteristic fashion from beside the upright. (Navy 05-00 AF)
The first try opened the flood gates as the Navy soon scored their second of the game. The host’s forwards exerted their dominance, leaving the visitors scrum in shambles as veteran No. 8 Radeesha Senevirathne broke from two meters out to touch down.
Isuru Kongahawatta assumed kicking duties as the former Isipathana five-eighth knocked over from close range to extend the host led. (Navy 12-00 AF)
Conceding their second try was the thorough wake-up call that the Air Force needed, after which the visitors finally managed to find their footing, asserting pressure on the hosts.
This pressure soon turned into points not just once but twice, as hooker Parakkrama Rathnayake crashed over from the tail of rumbling mauls to score in similar fashion.
Gayantha Iddamalgoda converted both tries from the 15-meter line to take the visitors into halftime with a surprise lead, leaving the hosts befuddled and in search of, answers.
Half Time: Navy Sports Club 12 (2T 1C) trail Air Force Sports Club 14 (2T 2C)
It was quite a day for the front row forward, Navy’s weapon Charith Silva. The big man found himself in the right place at the right time, charging onto a quick tap from Captain Richie Darmapala to crash over.
Silva was unstoppable from close-range, helping gain the lead for the hosts, as Kongahawatta extended their lead further with the conversion. (Navy 19-14 AF)
The game turned into a scrappy affair from then on as the visitors were one man down when double try-scorer Parakkrama Rathnayake had a brain-fade, seeing red for punching his opponent in the face.
The whole situation began following a tip-tackle from Nilantha Jayaweera. The flanker was sent to the bin for the dangerous tackle as the visitors were reduced to 13-men with nearly half hour of the game left to play.
The home side failed to disturb the scorers during that period, leaving the game in the balance going into the final 10-minutes of the game.
Two further yellow cards were dished-out to each team; however, neither the hosts nor the visitors were able to find the whitewash.
The final act of the game went the way of the hosts as Nirosh Perera scored the bonus point try in the corner, handing the hosts a convincing first win of the year and the Dialog Rugby League.
Though Mushin Faleel surprised the viewers, he failed with the conversion as the game ended leaving the visitors with plenty to ponder upon, with having to go into a tricky encounter against Police Sports Club next week at home.
Full Time: Navy Sports Club 24 (4T 2C) defeated Air Force Sports Club 14 (2T 2C)
Dialog Viu Player of the Match: Charith Silva (Navy)
Navy: Charith Silva 2T, Radeesha Senevirathne 1T, Nirosh Perera 1T, Isuru Kongahawatta 2C
Air Force: Parakkrama Rathnayake 2T, Gayantha Iddamalgoda 2C
Cautions: Parakkrama Rathnayake Red Card (AF), Nilantha Jayaweera Yellow Card (AF), Imesh Priyadarshana Yellow Card (AF), Raveen De Silva Yellow Card (Navy)