Final week of the first round of Dialog Rugby league is full of excitement. Air Force hosted CR&FC on windy but  beautiful conditions at the picturesque venue in Ratmalana.

Coach Leonard De Zilva’s troops had the perfect start, scoring the first try. Loose head prop Ranuka Medagedera’s pick and run resulted in five points but Prince Chamara missed the extras. CR playing against the wind was a little worrying factor in the first half, but Prince made a 30m penalty with courtesy of the Air Force infringement. (AF 5 – 3 CR)

Air Force winger Pabsara Hewage was sent in to the sin-bin by referee Aruna Rankothge for continuous foul play in the 15th minute. Visitors, with a man advantage escalated the attack and Sashan Mohamed scored the first try for the Reds. Prince made no mistake with the conversion. Lanka Perera the half back in blue was too excited in the scrums, as he conceded two penalties trying to stop his opposite number Kavindu De Costa. (AF 5 – 10 CR)

Then came the sheer brilliance by the airmen where the fly half Chamath Fernando sliced like the knife through the butter in the opposite defense. He was well supported by Nuwan Perera the full back who picked his off load, and receiving the ball again with a 1-1 pass over Fernando finished it in style. Perera converted his try and ticked the lead for the hosts. CR lock forward Panduka Angammana’s illegitimate tackle resulted him in the naughty chair for 10 minutes. Perera slotted that penalty in to points although he missed one priorwhich was the same distance. Just before the half time CR had a kickable penalty but Prince could not nail it.

Half Time : Air Force 15 (2T, 1C, 1P) – CR&FC 10 (1T, 1C, 1P)

Visitors changing sides after the shock result at the first half looked menacing with the restart. Hooker Lahiru Pavithra  scored in the corner with 40 seconds in to the game, which is what coach Inthi Marikkar ordered for the Reds. Prince missing the extras meant the score was on level with 15 all which added nerves for both the teams.

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CR had two more chances their way but opportunities missed by former Trinity duo Sashan Mohamed and Kanchana Ramanayake. However, it did not effect at all as the pendulum swung in favour of the Reds. Tariq Salih made some yards with a fine run and the end result saw Jason Dissanayake scoring the try. Ramanayake missed the conversion. Minutes later CR once again charging in to the opposite half with some wonderful hands by the forwards and the backs, resulted  in winger Mekalanka Probodya scoring his first try. Unsuccessful conversion by Ramanayake (AF 15 – 27 CR)

As the game headed in to the final 10 minutes Pabsara Hewage receiving his second yellow card which led referee Rankothge to send him out with the Red Card. Rejuvenated CR&FC scored three more tries with immediate effects through Wasaba Senerath, Panduka Angammana and Amila Bandara. Kanchana Ramanayake and Jason Dissanayake kicked one conversion each.

Full Time : Air Force 15 (2T, 1C, 1P) – CR&FC 46 (7T, 4C, 1P)

It was a fascinating battle in the first half perhaps the hosts thought they had this game in hand, without a doubt it was the best first half performance for the Air Force in this season. But they lacked composure in the second half, a similar style of play against the Havelock’s few weeks ago. On the other hand CR actually took a lot time to settle down, they have some injuries with captain Ishan Noor, Tharinda Ratwatte, Rochana Hettiarachi and Supun Warnakulasuriya. But this bonus point win will give them a morale booster heading in to the second round.

We only played in the second half, we struggled first half with the heat. Gutsy performance by Air Force, well they have nothing to lose, we knew we just needed to build some phases and open up some space. Hopefully, we will take the positives of the second half and go to the next game”

-Inthi Marikkar – CR&FC coach.