Unbeaten Navy SC took home the Dialog Club Rugby League 2013/14 title in fascinating fashion as they beat Havelock SC 20-13 under lights in a cracking encounter worked out at Havelock Park.
Navy SC came down to Havelock Park as the crowned champions after their resounding win over Kandy SC last week. Havelock SC had all to play for their pride as they were up against a marauding Navy outfit which had not tasted defeat for the whole season. Joe Brown kicked off the game amidst thousands of rugby fans gathered at Havelock Park to witness the final showdown of Dialog Club Rugby League 2013/14.
Havelock SC drew first blood when former Thomian rugby captain Devin Jayasinghe playing his first club game fired across a stunning 45 meter penalty kick in the 4th minute of the game after Navy SC line was penalized for offside play. (Navy 00 – Havies 03)
Navy got couple of chances to start their points scoring for the evening early on but their ever reliable full back Nuwan Hettiarachchi missed both the chances which were within his kicking range. Both teams used their boot quite often as they wanted to gain territorial advantage to settle their early nerves. The game was going in full throttle as both teams displayed exhilarating rugby which kept the spectators on the edges of their seats.
Havelock lost their skipper Sudharshan Muthuthanthri for 10 minutes when referee Norman Drake sent the hard working flanker to the sin bin for a breakdown infringement. Navy used their one man advantage to hit back strongly but Havelock SC defended grittily.
With only 25 minutes on the clock, Navy SC leveled the scores when Nuwan Hettiarachchi bisected the posts from a penalty kick after Havelocks was penalized for not releasing the ball in a ruck situation. (Navy 03 – Havies 03)
Navy SC suffered a major hiccup with less than 10 minutes to go before the break when strict referee Norman Drake from Dubai sent Navy SC’s number 8 Mateaki Kafatolu and their fly half Chanaka Chandimal to the sin-bin handing Havelock a clear cut two-man advantage. Havelocks got back into the lead in the 32nd minute when their Coach cum Player Paula Kaho scored a pushover try from a 5 meter scrum. Devin Jayasinghe failed to add the extra points. (Navy 03 – Havies 08)
By far the most dangerous player on the park, Setefano Cakau worked off his Fijian magic when he scored a stunning try on the brink of the half time whistle after he made a neat punt which was collected by Dhanushka ‘Gertha’ Perera and the strong Navy flanker offloaded to Setefano Cakau who ran down few meters to score under the posts. Nuwan Hettiarachchi converted the try to give Navy a slight two point lead going into the half time break.
Half Time : Navy SC 10 – Havelock SC 08
After the lemons, Setefano Cakau kicked off this much anticipated game for the 2nd half. Both teams returned to the battle from a much needed 10 minutes break after a breathtaking 1st half of superb classic ferocious rugby. Navy started the 2nd half with an improved attacking game plan though Havelock SC defensive work stood out brilliantly but referee Norman Drake awarded a penalty to Navy SC as Havelock SC made a Scrum infringement in the 45th minute of the game.
Nuwan Hettiarachchi successfully kicked the 50 meter penalty. (Navy 13 – Havies 08)
The Navy was displaying their champion qualities as they had a basic but efficient structure in their attacking play and in their defensive play. Havelock SC used all their tricks in the bag but failed to find a hole in the Navy defense as the game progressed into the final quarter with either team can win the game as Navy lead only by 5 points.
Eranga ‘Podi’ Swarnathilake extended the Navy SC lead in the 62nd minute when he scored a memorable running try as the Navy SC prop forward found Chanaka Chandimal’s offload after the latter broke through the Havelock SC defense. Nuwan Hettiarachchi converted. (Navy 20 – Havies 08)
Both teams showcased a physical battle right throughout the game as two of the top teams of Sri Lanka club rugby showed true evidence of the improved standards of Sri Lanka Rugby. Navy brought in their speedy foreign replacements Joeli Lutumailagi and Jone Avokia Vota in the final few minutes to spice up the climax but the valiant Havelock SC foreign Fijian replacement center Nemia Kenatale playing his first game for the season powered his way over for an outstanding try near the far corner in the 75th minute. Mohammed Sheriff missed the conversion. (Navy 20 – Havies 13)
With only few minutes left before the long final whistle, Havelock SC attacked with purpose to score a converted try to level the scorers but the hard working and tireless Navy defended willfully as referee Norman Drake blew the final whistle crowning Navy SC, the unbeaten Dialog Club Rugby League winners of 2013/14.
Full Time : Navy SC 20 – Havelock SC 13
ThePapare.com Man of the Match – Setefano Cakau
Highest Points Scorer of the League – 178 points : Nuwan Hettiarachchi of Navy SC
Highest Try Scorer of the League – 20 Tries : Sandun Herath of Havelock SC
ThePapare.com spoke to Leonard de Zilwa coach of the Navy team on their great achievement.
‘The league very hectic and required a lot of commitment from the boys we were practicing five days a week making sure we had everything right. Today’s match went down to the wire right up to the replacements and the boys committed themselves extremely well and that’s why we emerged unbeaten.’
‘We will be very confident at the knockouts and we hope to bag that as well. we will start again from ground zero and work ourselves to the top.