Two “back to back” tries, late in the 1st half proved vital in the end as Havelocks SC managed to beat a Determined Air Force SC 20 – 11 in their Dialog Clifford Cup quarter final fixture played at the Race course Rugby stadium. The win sets up an interesting semi final fixture between Havelocks and CR & FC next week.
Norman Drake from UAE signalled for kick off, and from the start it was the Airman who had the upper hand during the initial exchanges testing the Havelocks Defense. However much to the surprise it was Havies who took the lead against the run of play. having turned over possession the Pink Jerseys came storming into the opposition half and were awarded a a penalty. Shamri Burah took up the the kicking duties for the evening and did not disappoint,bisecting the uprights with ease, giving Havelocks a 3 nil lead by the 10th minute. The Airmen though leveled the scores and went on to take the lead, through 2 consecutive penalties that came their way in the 15th and 25th minute giving them 03-06 lead. Center Charith Senevirathene put over the two penalties.
The game which did not produce any extravagant passage of play, suddenly blossomed into life during the last 10 minutes of the 1st half with Havelocks scoring to back to back tries to distance themselves from their opposition. the first was scored by Sithum Peiris who touched down under the posts after some good work by Kevin Dixon who sprinted nearly 30 meters before managing to find Sithum with a fine inside pass. Burah added the easy extras. Before Air force could come up with a response Havelocks scored yet again when Dhanushka Ranjan used the blindside to outpace and outmuscle several Air Force defenders before releasing Nishon Perera who scampered under the posts. Burah made no mistake with the conversion and suddenly Havies were leading by 11 points. Air Force did try a few moves of their own and had one glorious chance when Gayantha Iddamalgoda giving chase his own kick only to knock forward the ball when attempting to collect the ball. with their best chance of the half not taken Air Force had to be contend with just the 6 points.
Half Time; Havelocks 17 – Air Force 06
With a semi final spot up for grabs Air Force were fully aware of what they required to do if they were to salvage something from this game, but the first 15 minutes of the 2nd session was nowhere close to the standard of a cup quarter final game with both teams playing in fits and starts. however the scrappiness and dodgy defense in the corners by Havelocks started to give confidence to the Airman. Quick hands saw Air Force reduce the deficit when Winger Kaushalya Manupriya touching down on the right corner flag. the difficult conversion was missed by Senevirathne (17-11). However Air Force were reduced to 14 minute when Gayan Iddamalgoda was sent to the sin-bin for descent. A few minutes later Burah comfortably slotted in a “threefer” to make sure their opposition had to score twice if they were to force an upset. (20-11). with around 5 minutes remaining, the Airman launched a fierce onslaught on the Havies defense but time and time again, their ball handling let them down. during the last few minutes Havies were reduced 13 men with Rahul Desilva and Liston Flatney. However despite the Numerical advantage, the Air man could not add to their scoreline giving Havies a rusty win.
Final Score: Havelocks SC 20 – Air Force SC 11
HAVELOCKS : Tries by Sithum Perera, Nishon Perera
2 Conversions and 2 Penalties by Shamri Burah
AIR FORCE : Tries by Kaushal Manupriya
1 Conversions and 2 Penalties by Charith Senevirathne
ThePapare.com Man of the Match : Nishon Perera (Havelocks)