Defending Champions Kandy SC secured the league championship, with one game to spare, for yet another year with a 19 – 08 win over a depleted Navy SC outfit in their Dialog Rugby League fixture played at Welisara today. 

Navy SC came into this game minus some of their key players who had been suspended for two games due to an internal disciplinary inquiry while Players like Sajith Saranga and Buddhima Piyarathne missed out due to injuries. Kandy SC too, who are still without their talisman Fazil Marija, made several changes in the starting lineup: Danush Dayan coming in at Full back and Srinath Sooriyabandara shifting into the wing. Shehan Lema and Gayan Weerarathne did not make the squad due to injuries.

 Photo Album – Kandy SC Vs. Navy SC (Dialog Rugby League 2015/16) 

With overcast conditions and an already slippery pitch due to overnight rain, Nigel Ratwatte, who played at no.10, kicked off proceedings in what was to be a rainy afternoon. Navy SC showed some early spark, with their forwards grinding their way forward and backs being equally good. Their first entry into the opposition half saw them winning a penalty right in front of the posts, 22 meters out. Fullback Thilina Weerasinghe made no mistake to draw first blood (3-0). The weather gods decided to make their presence felt with heavy rain coming down on the kandy vs navymen on the field. The champions though came back strongly using the width of the field, despite the unfavourable conditions , to stretch the Navy defense through their speedy backs. The tactic worked as Nigel Ratwatte made a neat cross kick to Oshan Perera who in turn punted the ball ahead. Srinath Sooriyabandara showed his speed to outrun the desperate Navy defenders and score Kandy’s first points of the game. Nigel Ratwatte missed the difficult conversion. (3-5). Brimming with confidence, Kandy gradually started to take control of the game while their opponents wilted under pressure. 10 minutes later Nigel sneaked his way through the Navy defense and scored just beside the posts. Nigel converted his own try to put Kandy ahead 03-12. Oshan Perera was next to get into the act, dummying his way through, touching down mid right. Nigel converted and Kandy were ahead by 16 points. (03-19). The heavy downpour started to take its toll as both teams struggled to maintain continuity in their play. The remainder of the 1st half belonged to the hosts as they kept on piling the pressure. Despite the dominance in possession they were not successful in adding points as they kept fumbling the wet ball.

Half Time; Navy SC 03 – Kandy SC 19

Navy got the 2nd session underway on a heavily waterlogged pitch. But despite the atrocious conditions Navy started off well, thwarting all attacking moves of Kandy while surging ahead through their own attacking forays. Kandy were reduced to 14 men when lock Chanaka Bandara was sent to the sin bin for a ‘no arms tackle’. Tempted by the one man advantage, Navy kept kandy vs navyattacking but loose hands let them down. During the 53rd minute Stephan Gregory managed to ground the ball on the try line after some good work by his fellow forward Sathya Ranathunga. Weerasinghe’s conversion attempt hit the uprights which meant Kandy maintained an 11 point lead. (08-19). Both camps brought in their substitutions to add some spark to the soggy game but the ground conditions did not make it easy. Navy shared the majority of the possession and territory during the 2nd half but they were not able to unlock Kandy’s defense with their own poor handling letting them down. With no scoring done, the game started to get a bit rough with tension running high on both teams; Referee Dinka Pieris handled the game well not letting anything get out of hand. By full time , Kandy’s first half blitz proved to be decisive as they ran out winners, and also secured the league title for another year irrespective of next week’s result against Havelocks SC at Nittewella.

After the game, Man of the Match Nigel Ratwatte shared his thoughts on the game; “I think we started off well. We played according to the game plan. We knew it was going to rain so we played with our forwards and kept it tight and always wanted to keep play in the their half and we scored 19 points in the first half which proved important in the end.”

Match Summary

FINAL SCORE: Kandy 19 – Navy 8

Kandy: Tries by Srinath Sooriyabandara, Nigel Ratwatte, Oshan Perera.

              2 conversions by Nigel Ratwatte.

Navy SC:  1 Try by Stephan Gregory 

                1 Penalty by Thilina Weerasinghe