Defending champions Navy SC eased passed Army SC by 48 (7T, 5C, 1P) to 03 (1P) in a Dialog Rugby League 2014/15 round seven match which took place at the picturesque Race Course International Stadium on Saturday.
This game was titled to be a grudge battle as the current Army skipper Rohitha Rajapaksa led the Navy team for the league title and the Clifford cup triumph last season and this time around his elder brother Yoshitha Rajapaksa leads the Navy outfit. Great sportsmanship was shown by the two Rajapaksa brothers in a physical battle and rumours circulated that one or the other captain will not play today’s game due to the bound of brotherhood. Nevertheless, both teams huddled together before the kick-off which was unusual.
Navy made an early error with a knock on from the kick off, thus, managed to turn over the ball in their own 10-meter line and Joeli Lutumailagi made a stunning break and flew past to the opposite territory. Army handled the early threat well yet their line was infringed off side and as a result the visitors received the first penalty. Rizah Mubarak made no mistakes with the kick. (Navy 03 – 00 Army)
The hosts had the chance to equalize the score when with a three pointer after Sajith Saranga infringed with his hands in the ruck. Prince Chamara failed to bisect the post as his kick went past the dead line which was collected by Lutumailagi and he made a quick decision to run from the corner instead of a 22-meter drop out. This was not spotted the referee and as a result Sailors gained a 95-meter territorial advantage. The first line out of the day in favor of visitors was well collected and Navy used their stronger pack to drive the rolling maul. Yoshitha Rajapaksa controlled the maul smoothly from behind and touched down the first try. Rizah Mubarak converted. (Navy 10 – 00 Army)
Army started off brightly from the restart, Rohitha Rajapaksa went for a drop goal attempt which went astray. Army still with possession, this time the skipper sent it out wide to the world-class Rupeni Cauka. Unfortunately his off load found his countryman but in the opposite team as Joeli Lutuimalagi said thank you very much and went under the post. Rizah Mubarak added the extra points.(Navy 17 – 00 Army)
The hosts felt the early pressure where nothing was going in favour of them but a side entry in the ruck gave another chance to Prince Chamara who made it successful this time to give the first points which was the last until the 80th minute. (Navy 17 – Army 03)
Despite that penalty it was all Navy, once again Sailors came threatening in the opposite half and few quick worked passes from their speedy backline handed the ball to Rizah who avoided a big tackle on him to give a perfect off load to Navari Eramasi who went onto score his first try. It did not take too long for Eramasi to score his second try from another good pop pass by Chanaka Chandimal and it was a 60-meter running scintillating try by the Fijian. Rizah kicked both the conversions accurately. (Navy 31 – 03 Army)
Just before the half-time whistle, the Sailors came storming into the opposite half and a wide sent-out pass which was collected well by the Tuskers winger Dinusha Chathuranga saw him storming a try in the corner. Rizah could not convert the 5th Navy try of the 1st half.
Half-time: Navy (T5, C4, P1) 36 – 03 (1P) Army
It was a pathetic game of rugby with both teams making unforced errors after the lemons break with both outfits losing possession and territory in continuous knock-ons. It was not the first time but the second time that big brother ‘Yo’ (Yoshitha) tackled the little ‘Ro’ (Rohitha). He was found guilty for coming from an off-side position to make his second tackle on his younger brother and as a result the Navy skipper was sin binned for 10 minutes by the Kiwi referee.
Army had more possession than in the first half, which could have been capitalized in their opposite territory at least 6-7 times but all attempts, went in vain. The hosts simply could not keep the ball after contact as it was turned over by the Sailors. New Zealand recruit, Dean Warren who replaced Lutumailagi was astonishing. He always escaped the first tackle and he ran a superb zigzag 55-meter sprint from a Chanaka Chandimal pass to score his first try. Rizah Mubarak missed his second conversion of the day. (Navy 41 – 03 Army)
2003’s Rugby World Cup sensation Rupeni Caukau was replaced by Saniwalati Ramuwai early in the first half. Both Ramuwai and Pio Tuwai could not make a huge impact as the Army game plan was out-planned by the defending champions.
Speedster Vishwamithra Jayasinghe had an outstanding game with his dazzling speed and steps which was always a threat for the hosts. He gained over 30 meter most of the time when the ball was on his hand. Warren’s off load to Jayasinghe earned a well-deserved try for the speedster as he foxed Pio and Andrew Benson in the opposite 22-meter territory to cap off a brilliant performance. Rizah added the two points.
Full-time: Navy 48 (T7, C5, P1) – Army 03 (P1)
Referee – Paul Mckay (New Zealand)
ThePapare player of the match – Chanaka Chandimal (Navy)
Rizah Mubarak, Dinusha Chathuranga, Joeli Lutumailagi, Lee Keegal, Vishwamithra Jayasinghe, Chanaka Chandimal, Suranga Pushpakumara, Navari Eramasi, Yoshitha Rajapaksa (C), Danushka Perera, Sajith Saranga, Kalana Amarasinghe, Henry Terrance, Dulanjana Wijesinghe, Kasun De Silva
Replacements – Eranga Swarnathilaka, Achala Perera, Sathya Ranathunga, Suhiru Anthony, Dean Warren, Saliya Handapangoda, Samith Dananjaya, Lapana Makapelu
Kilipi Latu, Prince Chamara, Rupeni Caukau, Isuru Kodithuwakku, Kavindu Perera, Rohitha Rajapaksa, Rehan Weerakoon, Manoj Silva, Upul Abeyrathna, Thisila Karunathilaka, Nishantha Kobbakaduwa, Randika Alwis, Rasika Abeynayaka, Lahiru Pavithra, Yohan Keyzer
Replacements – Dinesh Suranga, Aravinda Karunarathna, Pio Tuwai, Akram Mohamed, Andrew Benson, Saniwalatu Ramuwai, Banuka Nanayakkara, Sashan Mohamed.