Shehan Pathirana of Kandy SC is held by Lee with support coming his way from Sajith Saranga
By Shamseer Jaleel
Inter Club Rugby league 2019/2020 will come to its end of round 1 when two top teams, Havies and unbeaten Kandy battle it out at Havelock Park this weekend.
CH hold the edge
CH & FC after some magnificent running rugby with Kandy will be the hotly favoured team to win their last first round outing when they lock horns with Air Force at Ratmalana.
CH under Rohitha Rajapakse dished out champion rugby early in the game against Kandy but ran out of steam and direction in the later half. With some big names under their belt with players such as Sathya Ranathunga, Sudam Sooriyarachchi, Nishon Perera, Gayan Weeraratne, Lee brothers and Samuel Maduwantha they should have ended in the top 3 but they lacked team work this season.
Air Force will find it tough to contain the CH outfit. Gayantha Iddamalgoda will play a major part with his kicking to touch and gain territorial advantage plus penalty kicks could be vital but they will find it tough to get out of their number 8 position.
Referee Kelum Sandaruwan
Police hold the edge
Police Sports Club presently at number 3 position put up a good team effort from the start of this initial round itself. Their Fijian, Emosi being outstanding for the Cops. His defence as well attacking moves has put many sides under pressure. He is an asset for the Cops who look forward to a good ending when they confront the Solders away at Welisara. Chandimal kick at goal and gain territory will be vital for the Police outfit.
Meanwhile Army SC who had a grand start lost their way after their Up Country encounter in the Central Hills. Their head coach, Radhika Hettiarachchi will have lot of homework to do before the commencement of round 2. Gayan Salinda, Senanayake Ashan Bandara are crack players along with their Fijian player but they need to get back to their basics and play according to their full potential.
Referee Priyantha Gunaratne
CR to end on a winning note
CR & FC will be all out to end their sudden losing streak where they lost out to the defending champions, Kandy SC and Havies will be all out to end round 1 on a winning note when they confront Sailors at home.
Led by Omalka Gunaratne with Reza Rafaideen, Janidu Dilshan, Kevin Dixon, Dinuk Amarasinghe and Gemunu Cheethiya lads from Longdon Place are assured with a bouncing back performance at this last encounter in round 1 and a fresh start in the later round. Sponsored by SAGT the Longdon Place club will be aiming high for the League Title after two plus decades with their last win in 1997.
Meanwhile the Sailors will be expecting much from skipper, Richie Dharmapala, Thilina weerasinghe and Chathura Seneviratne to be on top of their game. But on form the Red Shirt should pull it off.
Referee Dilum Dheeshana
Close encounter expected between Kandy and Park Club
Defending league champions, Kandy SC will be making their 4th encounter in tandem in the steamy Colombo when they lock horns with the Park Club who occupy number 2 at present.
Kandy SC has displayed outstanding running rugby combined very well by their mobile forwards and three quarter line. Shehan Pathirana, Damith Dissnayake, Buwanaka Udangamuwa and Sayuru Anthony being on top this season while their three quarter line is a star studded outfit. Skipper Nigel Rratwatte, Tharinda Ratwatte, Perera brothers and Danushka Dyan being omnipresent and lightning fast. With balls in hand they are a threatening lot who could run riot at Havelock Park.
Kavindu Perera too was in class form this season crossing over from Longdon Place to his home town club. Kandy has left out Mohamed Shabeer and brought in cracking and tough defense possessing, Tharindu Chanaka in to the starting line-up. Head Coach Fazil Marija and forwards coach, Viraj Prasanna is lucky to have their former Head Coach Johan Taylor on a short stint in Kandy.
Meanwhile the Park Club is never to be underestimated. They are backed by the best coach in the country, Sanath Martis who had done a yeoman service for the Park Club securing number 2 till now. Led by Mithun Hapugoda well backed by Ajmeer Fajudeen, Prince Chamara and Lasindu Ishan Karunathilake and playing at home they could give Kandy their toughest time before the commencement of round 2. No big names but youthful outfit the Park Club has proved beyond doubt they are one of the top sides in the league.
On form Kandy hold the edge but playing at home Havies should not be under estimated as well. First half will be vital with Kandy piling up the points while Havies will eye for the later half where Kandy lacked the finish this season losing out in steam. Kandy lead the points table with 35 points to Havies 28.
Havies cannot take the lead but can end Kandy SC’s unbeaten run in the league. Kandy is very likely to have three more rides to Colombo early in round 2 before having 4 games in tandem back at home in the Central Hills.
Referee Aaqil Jamaldeen
Air Force vs CH & FC, Ratmalana
Army SC vs Police SC, Welisara
CR & FC vs Navy SC, Longdon Place
Havelock SC vs Kandy SC, Havelock Park