However, entertainment seemed to be lacking in the first-half on a gloomy evening at Longdon Place as errors marred the contest. The Wesleyites strung up two back to back forward pass tries in the half to add to all the knock-ons by both teams at crucial moments. They laid most of the foundations for their victory during the first half of the game running into an early 15-nil lead at the end of only the quarter hour mark. The Rajans although improved during the second period, were kept at bay by the double blues in the end.
Wesley’s lethal attack in the early exchanges made sure that they made the brighter start, managing to take the lead in the second minute when Ryan Samuel ran onto an inside pass from Daiyan Sabhar just outside the Dharmaraja 5m line, before crossing for the opening try. Mursheed Zubair added the extras to give them the lead. (WC 07-00 DRCK)
The Rajans suffered an early setback when Hiyarapitiya was warned for repeated off-side infringements close to his try-line in the 7th minute. From the resulting penalty, Zubair opted the quick tap instead of looking for touch, sucking in the defense and launching a cut-out pass before Kavindana Perera barged over for their second try from close quarters. Zubair missed the right upright. (WC 12-00 DRCK)
It was a physical battle as the game progressed with both teams trying to break each other’s red lines, and the Rajans should have been in front as they launched an attack into the oppositions half only to give away possession through a knock-on, and they made things worse for themselves minutes later handing Wesley a chance off the tee. Zubair accepted the three points on offer to send them 15 points clear. (WC 15-00 DRCK)
The Rajans, however, scored their first try against the run of play during a rare spell of possession as they sucked in the defense before scrum-half Wijesiri spotted the space in behind the defense and put a neat grubber kick through, successfully chased down, juggled and controlled before gathering and diving down over the try-line to meet with a swinging arm tackle giving the referee no choice but to award Dharmaraja with a penalty try. (WC 15-07 DRCK)
Five minutes later, Wesley extended their lead as Mursheed Zubair chipped his second penalty of the first half after Tharindu Kapuwatta was blown up for illegal scrummaging. (WC 18-07 DRCK)
Dharmaraja immediately struck again when Bawantha Udangamuwa slotted a penalty from 49 meters out after an unnecessary infringement at a breakdown by a Wesley flanker leading the way to a 18-10 Wesley lead at half-time.
Half Time: Wesley 18(2T 1C 2P) – 10(1PT 1P) Dharmaraja
Despite being in a good position to attack when the sides came out after the interval, the home team failed to extend their 8-point lead during the early stages of the second half. In the 47th minute, Dharmaraja pulled a score back through Manuka Hiyarapitiya, the Hooker crashing over for a deserved try. Bawantha ran onto a pass from Wijesiri, taking four to five defenders with him before Hiyarapitiya and his forwards arrived in support picking and driving into the grass close to the try-line before eventually creeping over. Udangamuwa’s conversion swayed wide of the posts. (WC 18-15 DRCK)
Dharmaraja renewed their spirits following that try and soared attack after attack only to be disappointed by that last pass being unnecessarily given away. For them after having been beaten and humiliated they can go back to the Plate with their heads held high knowing that they gave it their all and that this was their best performance of the season and also happy that they are getting better by the game. Credit to the skipper Bawantha Udangamuwa who was their lone warrior, kicking, chasing, rucking and sucking in all those defenders to let the runners through also earning himself ThePapare.com Man of the Match award for all his troubles.
The game’s closing stages was an arm wrestle but Wesley had the last laugh with Harshana, Zubair and Samuel combining passes to send Kavindana Perera over for his second try of the match and help secure Wesley their 3rd victory and secure the third spot of the group. The conversion was missed by Zubair but it didn’t matter as the referee blew the long whistle to bring the game to an end. (WC 23-15 DRCK)
Full Time: Wesley 23(3T 1C 2P) – 15(1T 1PT 1P) Dharmaraja
ThePapare.com Man of the Match: Bawantha Udangamuwa
Kavindana Perera (2T)
Ryan Samuel (1T)
Mursheed Zubair (1C 2P)
Manuka Hiyarapitiya (1T)
Bawantha Udangamuwa (1P)