Monday, 2 February 2015 01:10
By Shamseer Jaleel
A fantastic second half burst by CR&FC helped them to eke out a draw against Kandy whose title hopes are in doubt with two more tough outings to come.
One will be against the sailors, which will be played at Nittawela but the Havies game will be much tougher as they will be meeting them on their home turf.
Last evening Havelocks too showed that they were no pushovers in the league when they went past the defending champions Navy by 18-10.
It was a close shave for Kandy who got their options wrong earlier in the second half when they opted to take their play maker Koto Pongi out from the field. The Tongan-born player now residing in Japan was unstoppable in his moves and succeeded in scattering CR&FC defence.
Until that time Kandy comfortably led 17-3. As soon as he was rested and Kenyan player Oscar Ouma was brought in, things changed and CR&FC found gaping holes in Kandy’s defence.
The first half saw star-studded Kandy player Fazil Marija running rampant over the Red Shirts. Two tries teeming with individual brilliance from Marija and some solid work by their centre three quarters gave Kandy a 10-point lead.
In the last 20 minutes the Red Shirts stormed back in to the game. CR&FC Head Coach Imthisam Marrikar made some top-class changes which floored Kandy.
Former Science College player Richard Dharmapala made a comeback in this game after being laid-off for nearly five months due to a drug ban which was later overturned.
Both Robbie Malneek and former Trinitian Kanchana Ramanayake had their best games in a long time. Former Wesley player Rahul de Silva too played his heart out for the Longdon Place club. For Kandy, Chris Colette, Skipper Sean Wijesinghe, Fazil Marija and Koto Pongi made their mark in this outing.
Army made a major comeback after losing to the sailors last week to beat the much-improved Sri Lanka Air Force with a number of overseas players in their ranks. Navy completed their third win in the second round, beating Police and CR&FC earlier. Havies beat Navy in an onslaught in Welisara. The game saw a couple of stoppages due to unwanted rough play. With this win Havies too have a chance of claiming the league during the club’s centenary year if they win the rest of their matches with bonus points.
Navy, Kandy and Havelocks are the frontrunners this season. The inter-club season will have a break for one week during the last week of February when the Sri Lankan Sevens outfit takes wing to Malaysia for the Borneo Sevens.