The Dialog Clifford Cup knockout quarter final match between CR&FC v Army concluded with a 35 (T4 C3 P3) – 26 (T4 C3) win for the Reds. Although Army showcased some brilliant performances in the first half where they led 14 – 10 at the half time, CR hit back hard in the final 10 minutes where Army had to play with only 14 in the park.
Norman Drake from UAE is the man who controlled the game in the middle letting the game flow despite some sloppy stop-play due to some unforced errors. Also it took nearly 30 minutes for CR to come in to the opposite 22m, but Tarinda Rathwatte’s drop goal attempt in the 80th minute brought about a laugh from the nervy CR supporters as Mekalanka Promdhya scored on the failed attempt.
Gayan Salinda of Army, the second highest points scorer of the concluded Dialog Rugby League kicked off the game in a hot afternoon. Army scrum half Mohamed Rizvi’s illegal feeding in the scrum cost possession twice in the first ten minutes, however, the Soldiers dominated from then. Upul Abeyrathne receiving a lovely inside pass from his team mate, drew first blood as Salinda added the extras. (Army 07 – 00 CR)
In the 25th minute CR got close to the opposite 22m but it was turned over by Army and their speedster Sudaraka Dikkimbura kicked the ball four times on the move until he dived over the whitewash where CR chases did not have enough pace to stop him. That try was even applauded by the veteran CR players in the stands.
Prince Chamara missed a kickable 35m penalty but it did not effect the team as a lovely team try came from Kanchana’s 35 run, then off loaded to Sashan Mohamed who then passed to his left which led Rehan Silva to score. Just before the half time Army infringing in the breakdown allowed CR to cut the defecit for just 4 points in the breather.
Half Time : Army 14 – 10 CR&FC
Four minutes in to the second half Army got a kickable 37m straight penalty kick, but Asoka Jayalal made the courageous call to put the kick in to touch to gain territory. The results were fruitful as they made few phases from the lineout and a stunning inside pass by Mohamed Rizvi saw Nalaka Maduranga diving over for the five points. Salinda converted. (Army 21 – 10 CR).
With 11 points behind, CR accelerated the attacking pattern going wide, Kanchana Ramanayake responded to the Army’s try a minute before. Prince converted. Army with the restart put a lot pressure on Ratawatte as his kick inside the red zone was barged by his opposite defenders. That had the CR fly half running backwards to rescue the ball possession. As a result it was a 5m scrum for the Soldiers and they capitalized with some phases which allowed CR defence no options but to leave space in the blind side. Scrum half Rizvi spotted the gap and set Salinda to score the try. (Army 26 – 17 CR)
In the 55th minute Prince missed another kickable penalty, but CR had the possession and they played inside the Army half for most of the time since then. Lock forward Sampath Rosa made a high tackle on a CR player in the 67th minute which perhaps cost the game for the Soldiers. With that Rosa’s infringement, Prince nailed an easy penalty to make the deficit 6points. Minutes later Reds kicked another successful penalty to bring more hopes to the game. (Army 26 – 23 CR)
Army lost the plot in defense with pressure mounting and conceded another yellow card in the breakdown, which led 15 v 13 for two to three minutes. Kanchana Ramanayake scored his second with a peach of a running angle which was converted by Prince. The pendulum swung for the Reds as they took too much time to play as a settled unit.
The last two minutes of the game saw CR moving forward, Ratwatte used some magic for his drop goal attempt which turned out to be a rather a cross-field kick as the ball bounced and ricocheted to far right where Mekalanka Promodya made a sweet chase to score the try.
FT : Army 26 – 35 CR&FC
CR had injury issues and 9 players were out from the starting line-up, On the other hand Army won the game until the 70th minute just before Rosa was sin-binned their play making scrum half got injured and that impacted a lot in controlling the dying stage.
ThePapare player of the match : Kanchana Ramanayake (CR) although he had a poor start with greasy hands conceding two knock-ons he made some valuable meters which changed the game.