Asoka Jayalal’s red card send-off proved out to be a vital changing point in the encounter as the Army Sports Club could notwithstand the 80 minutes of play in the round 2 encounter of the Dialog Rugby League played under lights at Havelock Park this evening.

Under lights, the hosts were quick to take advantage of the familiar playing environment as they went on to score their first off a five-meter line out opportunity as Dushmantha Priyadarshana hurled through for the try. Samantha Lakshan missed out on the conversion but a five-point lead in the fifth minute gave the hosts some breathing space (5-0).

It was the Army stand-off Ashan Bandara who stepped forward through the battalion, spotting the gap early and offloading to Dinushan Ariyapala to score the first for the visitors. With Gayan Salinda having the easy opportunity to put his team through to thelead, failed to kick the conversion through.

Salinda however put through a penalty to take the lead but it was short lived as Hirantha Perera stepped his way through for the second Havelock try right after the restart. (10-08)

Havies continued the momentum as their three-quarters were on point at the 10-meter lineout with Nishon Perera scoring the try right under the posts (15-8). Samantha Lakshan didn’t make any mistake in the easy conversion as the hosts took a comfortable lead of 9 points. (17-8)

The ‘Sudarshana Muthuthanthri send-off’ in the final minutes of play in the second half gave Army their next trump card as thinking quickly fly-half Ashan Bandara used his judgment correctly to spot the gap and score. With Gayan Salinda converting a 34-meter, Army went in to the break narrowing the deficit to two points.

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Half time 15-17

The Soliders had the first pick at the score with Gayan Salinda earning his team the lead with a three-pointer, but Samantha Lakshan got the Havies back into the lead with his boot. (20-18)

Tragedy hit Army when they had two send-offs’ within five minutes of play where skipper Asoka Jayalal and Rosa Sampath banished to the naughty chair giving the hosts ample space to run through. They did just that as Sandun Herath sprinted through his corner and offloaded the ball to Hirantha Perera who went on to score his second. Samantha Lakshan missed the easy conversion which kept the score at 25-18.

Army’s hopes of coming back into the game were destroyed with their skipper Asoka Jayalal shown the red card by referee Irshad Cader resulting the visitors to play the rest of the game with 14 men.

Momentum depreciated within the Army men as Havelock Sports Club went on to take undue advantage. The hosts scored two more tries that came off the efforts of Rehan Thiyagarajah and Janik Jayasuriya while things were not working well for the Soldiers who were playing sans their playmaker.

As referee Irshad Cader blew for full time, Havelock Sports Club will keep their title hopes alive having lost only one encounter thus far. It was entertaining rugby at Havelock Park and Army SC will surely learn from their errors and bounce back in the coming weeks.

Havelock Sports Club thus walked away with the Yen Foo Paxton trophy that was donated for the Army SC vs Havelock SC encounter.

ThePapare’s Man of the Match : Hirantha Perera

Score Breakdown

Havelock SC : 39

Tries by Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Hirantha Perera (2), Nishon Perera, Janik Jayasuriya and Rehan Thyagarajah

Penalty by Samantha Lakshan

Conversions (2) by Rimzie Jamaldeen & Samantha Lakshan

Army SC – 18

Tries by Ashan Bandara, Dinushan Ariyapala

Conversion and Penalties (2) by Gayan Salinda

Gayan Salinda – 8

Samantha Lakshan – 5

Hirantha Perera – 10