Police Sports Club produced their best performance of the 2015/16 season when they beat Navy Sports Club by 16 (1T,1C,3P) to 11 (1T,2P) in their Dialog Rugby League second round fixture at Police Park on Saturday evening.
The first-round game between these two teams ended in a thrilling fashion where Navy evaded a late Police comeback to win 27 to 24 at Welisara.
Police first five-eighth Rehan Weerakoon started off the game. The Policemen used their backs early on as their star full-back Mohommad Sheriff broke through the Navy defense in the 4th minute with a superb running-angle which set up the try for scrum-half Mohommad Abzal. Young place-kicker Reeza Rafaideen converted with ease to give early lead to the hosts. (Police 07 – Navy 00)
The Sailors were off to an ill-disciplined start as they made many errors during breakdowns and they conceded a penalty in the 14th minute when prop-forward Roshan Ranasinghe made a high tackle on his opposite Randeera Silva. Rafaideen made no mistakes with the 40-meter penalty kick. (Police 10 – Navy 00)
The visitors were starved off good ball possession in the first quarter but they managed to get some points on the board in the 20th minute when Police no.8 Radeesha Senevirathne was infringed for holding onto the ball. Navy full-back Thilina Weerasinghe booted over the 25-meter penalty kick with ease. (Police 10 – Navy 03)
The junior Tuskers skipper & Navy no.8, Omalka Gunarathne was sent to the ‘Naughty Chair’ in the 26th minute of the game when he entered a ruck from the side but the hosts’ were unable to use that penalty advantage as Reeza dragged his kick wide of the posts.
The second yellow-card for the evening was issued for Police center Chula Susantha in the 32nd minute when he was penalized for avoiding clean ball in a ruck, which saved a certain Navy try.
The hosts’ gave away a simple 22-meter penalty kick in the 35th minute when their three-quarters were found off-side. Thilina Weerasinghe bisected the posts excellently to reduce the deficit. (Police 10 – Navy 06)
The home team got another opportunity just before the half-time whistle to extend their lead but Reeza missed the 40-meter penalty kick as an entertaining half of rugby came to an end.
HT: Police SC 10 – Navy SC 06
After lemons, Thilina Weerasinghe restarted the game. The visitors got kickable penalties early on in the second half but they opted to go for the 5-points which came back to haunt them in the end. The decision-making was very poor from the Sailors and they lacked bit of creativity in the second and third phases which deprived them from scoring points.
The Cops did not miss the crucial chances of putting points on the board as the experienced full-back Rizah Mubarak booted over an easy 15-meter penalty in the 56th minute when the Navy backline was caught off-side. (Police 13 – Navy 06)
The big bustling Bilal Hassen returned to action after recovering from an injury which kept him out of rugby for 3 weeks but he played as a Hooker this evening. Hassen was unfortunately yellow-carded in the 63rd minute when he was contesting the ball from the wrong side of a ruck.
Navy needed some spark to get back into the game which they found through the ever-present Suranga Pushpakumara who took a quick-tap off a 5-meter penalty and sneaked-over to score a much-needed try for the visitors. Thilina Weerasinghe missed the conversion. (Police 13 – Navy 11)
Sailors made many clinical errors in decision-making and their backs did not get much first-hand ball to make an impact. The Police defense stood strong on many occasions which saved the day for them. With only 8 minutes to go for the final whistle, Mubarak kicked a 22-meter penalty kick as Police extended their slim lead to 5 points. (Police 16 – Navy 11)
None of the high-profile Navy players finished off a move with a try to surge a comeback as Police ended as the worthy winners of this crunch battle. After a rather disappointing first-round, Police SC will be keen on putting on performances as this in the second round to climb up to the top three in the final points table.
FT: Police 16 – Navy SC 11
Referee – Priyantha Gunarathne
ThePapare Man of the Match – Mohommad Sheriff
Police SC – Mohommad Abzal 5 points (1 try), Reeza Rafaideen 5 points (1 conversion, 1 Penalty), Riza Mubarak 6 points (2 penalties)
Navy SC – Suranga Pushpakumara 5 points (1 try), Thilina Weerasinghe 6 points (2 penalties)