After the initial struggle Army SC re-grouped late in the second half to down a spirited yet error-ridden Air Force SC 16 (1T 1C 2P 1DG) – 20 (3T 1C 1P) at the Rathmalana Air Force Ground.
This was a match Air Force coach Lenard De Zylva had targeted to win in the 2nd Round of the Dialog Rugby League 2015/16 and it was going according to script with Air Force leading 16-10 but Army turned the game on its’ head with substitute Sudaraka Dikkumbura scoring back to back tries in the 2nd half.
Iddamalgoda took a quick tap deep inside their own half, catching the Army defense napping, and gained 40 meters; support and swift passing through the line sent Saraka Werella down the corner flag to score. Nuwan Perera, coming back from injury, made the conversion. (07-00)
Minutes later Army, with a line out inside the opposition 22m, drove forward with their forwards and with inches to go to the try-line, scrum half Mohamed Rizvi sniped his way in to score. Gayan Salinda made no mistake with the kick to equalize. (07-07)
Air Force got the opportunity to re-take the lead when they got a penalty but Nuwan Perera hit the upright from an easy kickable distance. On the other end Salinda made no mistake with his opportunity as he gave Army the lead. (07-10)
Towards the end of the first half Air Force got two penalties; one easy one, the other a 45 meter kick, which were both calmly put over by Charith Senevirathna continuing his good form from last week. (13-10)
Air Force played measured rugby and continued to do so in the second half as the opportunistic Charith Senevirathna extended the lead to six with a scintillating 30 meter drop goal in the first minute of the 2nd half. (16-10)
Air Force captain Pradeep Kurukulasooriya was sin-binned and Army’s Vinod Kumar joined him soon after as both sides failed to take advantage of the extra man, knocking the ball on with the whitewash at their mercy.
Salinda sparked life into the stuttering Army side as he broke through the defense and slick passing resulted in Dikkumbura diving over near the right corner flag. Salinda missed the conversion. (16-15)
In the 65th minute Army took the lead for the second and final time in the match, as Dikkumbura once again scored at his favourite right corner. (16-20)
On both occasions that Army scored Air Force were inside the opposition 22m and errors cost them ball possession and points. The hosts failed to get out of their 22m due to poor decision making in the final quarter of an hour which ultimately cost them the match.
ThePapare.com Man of the Match: Charith Senevirathne (Air Force)
“We really struggled today and the opposition played really good rugby. We didn’t play well as a team, didn’t stick to our system, getting the ball carriers and our core skills were really poor. If we want to win, everybody needs to work hard for it and playing away from home it is a must,”
Army Coach added after the match.
“Decision making and lack of experience in certain parts of the game cost us the match in the last 10-15 minutes. However, overall I am happy with the performance, it was good open rugby and good phases going on,”
Coach Lenard De Zylva looked at the brighter side after the match.