The star-studded Kandy Sports Club maintained their unbeaten tag in the Dialog Rugby League 2015/16 when they defeated a formidable Havelock Sports Club outfit by 18 (2T,1C, 2P) to 8 (1T,1P) in a cracking game at Havelock Park on Saturday night.
The only two unbeaten teams pulled in the biggest crowd for this season as Havies fly-half Rimzie Jamaldeen kicked off the much-awaited blockbuster clash. The defending champs, Kandy SC started off in rollicking fashion to dominate the breakdowns and show off their superiority with ball in hand.
Kandy full-back Arshad Jamaldeen booted over the first points of the game in the 6th minute when the Havies front-row was infringed for illegal binding in the scrum as the 40-meter kick sailed through perfectly. (Kandy 03 – Havies 00)
With the return of Shenal Dias, Havelocks dominated the line-outs but the visitors were enjoying almost 85% of the territory and possession in the first-half but the hosts defended valiantly.
The Havelock players made many unforced errors as they were under severe pressure against the non-stop attack by the Kandyans yet they were able to keep the title favourites from crossing over the line until the 30th minute of the game. Experienced center Gayan Weeraratne offloaded superbly from the back of his hand as he let loose his speedy winger Wishwamithra Jayasinghe to dive over near the right corner flag and score the first try of the match. Arshad Jamaldeen missed the conversion. (Kandy 08 – Havies 00)
Havelocks were made to defend continuously by the reigning champions but they came close to score a terrific try in the 33rd minute when center Hirantha Perera intercepted a loose pass by Arshad Jamaldeen to dash towards the try line but a valiant ankle tap by Richard Dharmapala saved the day for the visitors.
The home team found some momentum going into the half-time break when Kandy center Gayan Weerarathne was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Kevin ‘Kutty’ Dixon but the visitors defended ferociously and gave away nothing as the half-time whistle brought an end to an entertaining half of rugby.
HT: Kandy SC 08 (1T,1P) – Havelock SC (00)
After the turnaround, Kandy skipper Fazil Marija restarted the game. The team from Kandy continued to dominate the game but the young Havelocks outfit were up for the challenge though being deprived of points.
In the 47th minute, Havies got a chance to put some points on the board but Rimzie Jamaldeen missed a straight-forward 40-meter penalty kick after the Kandy defense line was penalized for off-side play.
Eight minutes later, Rimzie had the opportunity to make up for his first mistake and this time around he successfully booted over the 25-meter penalty after Kandy flanker Heshan Kalhara was found off-side. (Kandy 08 – Havies 03)
Kandy were still not assured of securing the win but they got a rather tricky penalty kick in the 61st minute when a Havelock player was penalized for side-entry into a breakdown but Roshan Weerarathne could not bisect the posts.
Kandy tight-five was simply excellent during scrums as they piled on the pressure at will and they received a 22-meter penalty kick when the hosts’ front-row was infringed for standing up in the 65th minute. Weeraratne made no mistakes this time. (Kandy 11 – Havies 03)
With the game nearing the 70-minute mark, Kandy put the final nail in the Havies coffin when Kevin Dixon and Rahul De Silva made a mess of the Roshan Weerarathne box-kick which Fazil Marija capitalized by kicking and chasing to score a stunning try. Roshan converted with ease. (Kandy 18 – Havies 03)
Both teams injected fresh legs to spark up something but the game was all but lost from a Havies’ point of view but they continued to look for that elusive try until the last moment.
Havies scored their first and only try in the 75th minute when Kevin ‘Kutty’ Dixon dived over the big ‘white’ line after his fellow school-mate Nishon Perera failed to do so to complement their series of attacks to test the Kandy defense. Rimzie failed to add the extra points.
The dominant and well-drilled Kandy machine registered their 6th straight win this season as they are on their way to defend the Sri Lankan rugby crown.
FT: Kandy SC 18 (2T,1C, 2P) – Havelock SC 08 (1T,1P)
Referee – Aruna Rankothge
ThePapare Man of the Match – Fazil Marija (Kandy SC)
After the game, Kandy SC head coach Sean Wijesinghe shared his views exclusively with ThePapare.com,
“Havelocks played a good game. This was not our best performance yet happy to have come away with the win.”
Kandy SC – Vishwamithra Jayasinghe 5 points (1 try), Fazil Marija 5 points (1 try), Roshan Weerarathne 5 points (1 penalty and 1 conversion), Arshad Jamaldeen 3 points (1 penalty)
Havelock SC – Kevin Dixon 5 points (1 try), Rimzie Jamaldeen 3 points (1 penalty)