Invigorated Havelock SC registered a morale-boosting 26-17 win over Army SC in a thrilling Dialog Rugby League 2014/15 encounter to start off the 6th weeks’ proceedings at Race Course Rugby Stadium on Friday.
Four tries scored by the Havelock Park boys secured their 6th consecutive bonus point in many games. The match got underway at an unaccustomed time of 3.30pm with Havies fly-half Dulaj Perera kicking off. Havies took the field on a hot & sunny evening after a convincing 45-16 win against Air Force SC last week while Army SC received a rest during the 5th week.
Army SC’s much-talked newest recruitment, Fijian try-scoring machine and one of the greatest wing three-quarters of all-time Rupeni Caucaunibuca was named in the match-day squad for his Lankan club rugby debut.
Havies used their strength of playing with their speedy and talented back line to the maximum effect in the early minutes of the match to test the Army defense which held on superbly. In the 12th minute of the match, Havelocks received a penalty within kicking range after a Soldier was infringed for obstructing his opponent without the ball yet Dulaj Perera failed to bisect the posts.
After 15 minutes of enthusiastic rugby from Havelocks inside the Army half and they finally broke the home team’s defense strategies using the width of the ground to let Sandun Herath go over the try line without much trouble. Dulaj Perera made no mistake with the conversion. (Havies 07 – Army 00)
Army recovered well in the 18th minute of the match when they eventually got their attacking act together through a well-constructed move using their foreigners as number 8 Samuela Saquewa scored a classic try near the right corner flag to put their first points on the board.
Prince Chamara missed the conversion. (Havies 07 – Army 05)
Full back Mithun Hapugoda sliced through the Army defense in the 23rd minute passing many defenders and gave a timely pass to Dulaj Perera who went over the try line to showcase the prowess of the Havies back line. Dulaj converted his own try without any problems. (Havies 14 – Army 05)
With only 28 minutes on the game clock, Army stayed in contention of the game through the reliable boot of Prince Chamara who fired across a 35-meter penalty after the visitors were penalized for hands in the ruck. (Havies 14 – Army 08)
Havelocks kept on pressurizing the Army defense using set-plays with their backline running at their own will and after 32 minutes, Havies number 8 Taufa Sione broke off through the open side from a 5-meter scrum to barge over for the 3rd Havies try. Dulaj Perera surprisingly missed a simple conversion. (Havies 19 – Army 08)
With few minutes left before the half-time whistle, Army lost their prop forward Lahiru Pavithra for 10 minutes after he was yellow-carded for obstructing.
Half-time: Havelock SC 19 (3T,2C) – Army SC 08 (1T,1P)
After the break, Army took the field with a different strategy of using their world-class center pairing of Rupeni Caucaunibuca and Sainivalati Ramuwai from the bench in the final 40 minutes as Thisila Karunathilake kicked started the 2nd half. Rupeni and Sainivalati made an early impact when they worked a magical move to break the Havies defense but Dhanushka Ranjan’s try-saving tackle helped Havelocks breathe a sigh of relief.
After 10 minutes of ding-dong battle, Army reduced the deficit when Prince Chamara fired across an easy 15-meter penalty kick after the Havelock forwards made an infringement in the scrum. (Havies 19 – Army 11)
The nippy full back Mithun Hapugoda provided a treat to all the spectators present in the 56th minute to extend the lead of the visitors. Half-back Kavindu De Costa kicked down a grubber kick into the open space of the field from a turnover ball deep inside their own territory and Mithun chased down excellently and collected the ball to sprint towards the try line to score under the posts. Dulaj Perera added the extra points. (Havies 26 – Army 11)
As the game approached the final quarter, Army continued to attack the Havies with more possession and territory than in the 1st half. At the 62-minute of the match, Army skipper and fly-half Rohitha Rajapakse scored the first drop goal of the season to stay in contention of the game. (Havies 26 – Army 14)
Havies back line could not display their strong and well-coordinated runs in the 2nd half yet they were excellent in defense with the help of their forwards. Havelocks defended ferociously as they put their bodies on the line but it gave Army a penalty kick for off-side play in the 70th minute which Prince Chamara booted to reduce the gap. (Havies 26 – Army 17)
Army SC used all the gas in their tanks to split the Havies defense yet the visitors were resilient though they were down to 13 men in the final minutes of the match when referee sent skipper Sudarshan Muthuthanthri and Dhiran Warnakoolasuriya to the ‘naughty chair’ for continuous foul play in space of a minute.
Just before the final whistle, Havelocks were awarded with a 25’ meter penalty kick to seal off the game after the Soldiers were infringed for holding on but Dulaj Perera missed the kick as an absorbing and thrilling game came to an end.
Full-time: Havelock SC 26 (4T, 3C) – Army SC 17 (1T, 3P, 1DG)
Referee – Darren Osh (Singapore)
ThePapare Man of the Match – Mithun Hapugoda (Havelock SC full back)
After the game, Havelock SC head coach Glenn Christini shared his views on the game exclusively with www.thepapare.com, “ We approached this game as a big game and happy to win it with a bonus point. Boys played with lot of heart and this game will be great platform for us to the rest of the season.”
ARMY SC – Lahiru Pavithra, Aravinda Karunaratne, Rasika Abeynayake, Randika Alwis, Thushara Perera, Upul Abeyrathne, Thisila Karunathilaka, Samuela Saquewa, Asitha Wijesinghe, Rohitha Rajapaksa (C), Chula Susantha, Imanka Ariyapala, Tevita Taufei, Kavindu Perera, Prince Chamara
Replacements – Dinesh Suranga, Sameera Wickramanayke, Akram Mohammed, Migara Madugalle, Andrew Benson, Sashan Mohammed, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Sainivalati Ramuwai.
HAVELOCK SC – Ganuka Dissanayaka, Liston Karunanayake, Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Ashen Karathelis, Jason Melder, Shehan Pathirana, Sudarshan Muthuthanthri, Taufa Sione, Kavindu De Costa, Dulaj Perera, Mohammed Sheriff, Danushka Ranjan, Villiami Tahitua, Sandun Herath, Mithun Hapugoda.
Replacements – Ashen Darling, Ranga Perera, Senal Deelaka, Anuranga Walpola, Dhiran Warnakoolasuriya, Hirantha Perera, Josh Kaifa, Mapa Tuipolaotu.