After trailing by 15-9 at the 55-minute mark, CR & FC staged a dramatic turn-around in order withstand the rampaging soldiers to get their campaign to a winning start.
CR’s starting fly-half Naleen Kumara’s kick-off was not properly executed but soon after they managed to get a penalty from 40-meters when the visitors were found guilty of handling in the ruck, former Army full-back donning the ‘Red’ jersey this year, Prince Chamara slotted the penalty perfectly. (CR 03 – Army 00)
Army took the lead in the 7th minute when their big lock-forward Nalaka Maduranga barged over through a second-phase move from a five-meter line-out. Full back Gayan Salinda added the extra points. (CR 03 – Army 07)
The hosts’ bridged the gap to only one-point in the 15th minute through Prince Chamara’s boot when an Army player was penalized for a side-entry into a breakdown. (CR 06 – Army 07)
Army managed to keep possession and territory in the first-half courtesy some structured defense which the ‘Reds’ could not breach. In the 34th minute, Gayan Salinda extended the lead to four-points through another well-executed penalty kick. (CR 06 – Army 10)
CR & FC’s dangerous runners, Rochana Hettiarachchi and Kavindu Perera did not get clean ball until the last few minutes but they too could not convert the pressure into points as the referee blew the half-time whistle.
HT: CR & FC 06 (2P) – Army SC 10 (1T,1C,1P)
After the 10-minute breather, Gayan Salinda restarted the match. CR & FC think-tank moved experienced Ashan De Costa into the first five-eighth position from inside-center to replace Naleen Kumara during the break to end the topsy-turvy nature of their game plan.
Former Science College winger, Prince Chamara bisected the posts accurately once again in the 53rd minute of the match when Army was infringed in the breakdown area. (CR 09 – Army 10)
Against the run-of-play, Army stretched their lead due to an excellent try by Gayan Salinda in the 55th minute. One of the CR players knocked the ball from a ruck and the Army players reacted quickly to let their back line runners take charge of the loose ball as the former C.W.W Kannangara full-back touched down near the left-corner flag. He failed to convert his own try. (CR 09 – Army 15)
CR & FC needed something special from their young guns which flanker Jason Dissanayake did flawlessly by using the blind-side and exploiting the Army’s weak link in their defense. Jason made an excellent run to open up the gap and off-load to replacement scrum-half Dilan Soysa who touched down neatly. Prince Chamara added the extra points to give a one-point lead to the hosts. (CR 16 – Army 15)
As the game clock reached the 65th minute, former skipper Ashan De Costa used all his experience into play by chipping and chasing to ultimately give the ball to his winger Mekalanka Pramodha who scored his first try. Prince failed to convert. (CR 21 – Army 15)
Both teams injected fresh legs from the bench but it was outside center Rochana Hettiarachchi who snipped through the Army defense in the 71st minute with a mind-blowing run before he passed to Mekalanka Pramodha who added the finishing touches to score his second of the evening. Prince made no mistakes with the conversion. (CR 28 – Army 15)
CR & FC proved that they have all the armoury in their ranks to go all the way this season by scripting a great comeback in the second half which was evident due to a good bench. Replacement winger Sashan Mohommad put the final nail in the Army coffin in the 77th minute when he was able to score the bonus-point securing try. Prince Chamara converted the final kick. (CR 35 – Army 15)
Army SC would be devastated after they started off excellently in the first-half but they will have to adjust their game plans in order to play all 80 minutes on full throttle.
FT: CR & FC 35 (4T,3C,3P) – Army SC 15 (2T,1C, 1P)
Referee – Aruna Rankothge
After the game, CR & FC head coach Imthi Marikkar gave his views exclusively to ThePapare.com, “Disappointed with the way we played in the first-half, we should have not let Army have that much possession and territory in the first-half. Ashan going into fly-half made a big difference in the second half.”
CR & FC – Prince Chamara 15 points (3 conversions and 3 penalties), Mekalanka Pramodha 10 points (2 tries), Sashan Mohommad 5 points (1 try), Dilan Soysa 5 points (1 try)
Army – Gayan Salinda 10 points (1 try, 1 conversion and 1 penalty), Nalaka Maduranga 5 points (1 try)