By Shamzeer Jaleel
Defending league champions, Kandy Sports Club produced champagne rugby when they not only outclassed the second best team in the tournament, Havelocks Sports Club by 27 Points (5 tries, 1 conversion) to 12 points (2 tries, 1 conversion) but also remained unbeaten in their 14 league games which concluded at Nittawela Rugby Stadium in front of a packed house yesterday.
With this win Kandy have kept custody of the league for a record 17 times starting their winning streak in 1994. . At the short breather Kandy led 10-5.
The game as expected, got off to fast open rugby being dished out by both teams in the league. Havelocks started off well with some good attacking moves which kept Kandy on the defense. Havies looked threatening with some powerful forwards play led by Sudarshan Muthuthnthri who was omnipresent. He split Kandy defense a number of times with some powerful moves but lacked support from his team mates. Three quarter line of the Park Club was well marked by the Kandy outfit who gave no space to run. Dhanushka Ranjan the speedster was caged inside without being able to run down the line. Only Tuan Burah showed some good pace in the second half. He initiated one of the Havies tries.
For Kandy it was their speedy three quarters had a field day. Centre Richard Dharmapala and Winger Vishwamithra Jayasinghe were unstoppable. With ball they looked threatening with some ghosting moves to which the Havies did not have an answer. They were well supported by their pack led by Number 8, Buwanka Udangamuwa and second rower, Sayuru Anthony.
Havies got an early opportunity in the 2nd minute of the game when Asitha Ratnake was spotted with a high tackle on Hirantha Perera. Havies full Back Rimzy Jamaldeen missed a 40 meter penalty. Kandy drew first blood in the 5th minute of the game though a forwards rush with their Number 8, Buwanka Udangamuwa touching down. Nigel Ratwatte missed the kick at goal. Havies made number of attempts to cross the Kandy line but failed with some ball handling errors. Finally their Prop Dushmanatha Priyadharshana broker free for a dandy try for the Park Club to level scores at 5 a piece . Ten minutes later through a sweeping three quarter move Centre Richard Dharmapala touched down.The next 5 minutes of play saw Kandy full Back, Nigel Ratwatte missing an easy penalty kick. Kandy took “lemons” at 10/5.
After the turn around Kandy winger Vishwamithra Jayasinghe covered nearly 60 meters in lightning speed to score a solo try. Nigel Ratwatte having an off day in his kicks at goal substituted with an intercepted try to take the home team lead to 20/5. Havies then reduced the deficit through a sweeping three quarter move which was initiated by Centre Tuan Burah which ended in Kevin Dixon touching down. Rimzy added the extra 2 points. But Kandy replacement winger Thilina Wijesinghe had other ideas sprinting nearly 40 meters to touch down under the posts to score an excellent try. Arshard Jamaldeen added the extra 2 points.
Kandy had two “Yellow Cards” one for Buwanaka Udangamuwa and the other being Thisila Karunathilake in the last minute of play. Havies Hirantha Perera was the naughty boy with one “yellow card”.
Dilaog CEO, Dr Hans Wijesuriya gave away the trophy for Kandy SC.Referee Aruna Rankothge had a grand game in controlling.Touch-Sarath Madugalle and Asela Muthumala Match Commissioner-Tuan Dole