Kandy Sports Club cruised to their second win the Dialog Rugby League when they gunned down Air Force SC 63-12 at Nittawela last evening. It was yet another 80-minute tester for the defending champions at home before they head off to Colombo to face the heavyweights.
Coach Sean Wijesinghe had thus tried to experiment some of his homegrown talent giving the green light for the new faces to play the encounter. Kandy’s regular scrum half Roshan Weeraratna didn’t walk on to the ground in the starting XV but instead was Srinath Sooriabandara and coming in for Nigel Ratwatte was Arshad Jamaladeen at full back.
Jamaldeen’s inclusion was a boomer for the side after their disappointing kicking success in the first game as he kicked two back to back penalties in the first few minutes to take Kandy to a clean lead of six points (6-0). Contradicting last week’s playing pattern, the Kandyans opted to play their forwards game and scored their first try through a rolling maul while Suhiru Anthony claimed his first try in the Kandy colours (11-0).
Air Force however tried to slow down play at Nittawela with a 40 meter penalty off the boot of Nuwan Perera but their plans didn’t seem to work out as Kandy continued their onslaught. Skipper FazilMarija created the window for Richard Dharmapala to score under the posts while Jamaldeen converted both tries to give his club a 20-3 lead.
Suhiru Anthony did a repeat of his earlier act, this time on the opposite corner as Kandy went over for their next. Minutes before referee called for lemons, it was Kandy who opted for a 5-meter tap and ended up scoring their fourth try for the evening with a smart move off Piyumal Manchanayaka. Jamaldeen missed out on the second Anthony try in the extras but was spot on in the latter. Nuwan Perera sent in another penalty for the Airmen as Kandy had started their climb.
Half time score : Kandy 32 (4T 3C 2P) to Air Force (2P)
The second half was nothing different to the first as Kandy were on the hunt for points. The forwards seemed to be doing a good job on the field for the hosts with the rolling maul coming into play. Gayan Rathnayake crossed over for the first try in the second half followed by his partner at lock Asitha Rathnayake.
Quick thinking by Roshan Weeraratna brought Kandy the next try as he took the quick tap in their attacking 22m and swindled a pass on to Danshaya Dayan on the blind side as he crossed over on the farther left.
Kandy’s in form #8, Heshan Kalhara summed up the day’s play with two back to back tries that came off two magnificent runs by the big lad who covered a good 20 meters to touch down. While tries kept coming from the Kandy forwards, Air Force solely depended on the boots of Nuwan Perera who got two more penalties through in the second half.
With the forwards doing most of the scoring for the hill country club, referee Priyantha Gunaratne called it full time as the game ended with scores reading 63-12. Kandy scored 9 tries and out of which only 6 were converted. Arshad Jamaldeen had a good game starting for the first time while kicking woes will still worry Kandy. Thilina Wijesinghe took the last two conversions but with the return of Nigel Ratwatte next week, Kandy will need to look for a permanent kicking option.
ThePapare.com’s Man of the Match : Arshad Jamaldeen
Full time score: Kandy 63 (9T 6C 2P) to Air Force (4P)
Kandy: Tries by Heshan Kalhara (2), Suhiru Anthony (2), Danshaya Dayan, Richard Dharmapala, Piyumal Manchanayaka, Asitha Rathnayake, Gayan Rathnayake
Penalties (2) by Arshad Jamaldeen
Conversions: Arshad Jamaldeen (4), Thilina Wijesinghe (2)
Arshad Jamaldeen 14 points
Suhiru Anthony & Heshan Kalhara 10 points each
Air Force: Penalties (4) by Nuwan Perera