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Army and CH settle for thrilling draw

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Action from the match between CR and FC and Police SC
Action from the match between CR and FC and Police SC

Army SC and CH and FC figured in the first drawn game for the current season as the 2022/23 Nippon Paint Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament produced some fascinating results after the completion of the third week of matches during the weekend.

The Racecourse Grounds in Colombo was the venue for this blockbuster as Army SC lived upto expectations as the most unpredictable team in the tournament by forcing a thrilling 31-all draw.

Both teams now have the identical playing record of having won one, lost one and drawn one game from their three first-round outings with 10 points each.

Action from the match between Havelock SC and Navy SC

Action from the match between Army SC and CH and FC. (Pictures by Sudath Nishantha and Dushmantha Mayadunne)

Even then, Army SC’s efforts should be commended because they started their campaign rather inauspiciously where they were humiliated 8-46 by the defending champions Kandy SC in their opening encounter at the Nittawela Stadium. But since then, they have taken the game to another level and were able to beat Police SC 25-23 in their second outing and last week they produced even greater performance to hold the favourites CH and FC in an enthralling rugby encounter.

Speedy wing three quarter Sudaraka Dikkumbura was undoubtedly the standout player for Army SC with two splendid tries as he became the highest try scorer so far in this tournament having crossed the whitewash on four occasions.

Skipper Prasath Madushanka had an outstanding game for the CH and FC with two superb tries, but it was former Sri Lanka Under-20 Sevens Pool player Udara Jayapala’s 78th-minute try that saved the Maitland Crescent Club from a certain defeat.

CR and FC v Police SC

CR and FC had a great escape as they went through some tough moments before pulling off a gruelling 36-19 victory over Police SC in another Nippon Paint Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament match played at Longden Place. This game, of course, turned into a contest between the two place-kickers Chathura Seneviratne (CR and FC) and Yohan Peiris (Police) with both producing a fine exhibition of kicking under tremendous pressure. Fly half Seneviratne eventually won the battle for the CR and FC as he booted five magnificent penalties to help the home side snatch the game from the jaws of defeat.

Kandy SC v Air Force SC

Unbeaten Kandy SC were stretched to the maximum before they pulled off a hard-fought 24-18 victory over Air Force SC in their SLR Nippon Paint Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament first-round match played at the Nittawela Stadium in Kandy.

The defending champions struggled throughout the game to get their act together well and eventually it was a 78th-minute try by Dinal Ekanayake that helped them to record their third successive victory this season.

Until then their success was in the balance as they went into the last few minutes of the game with a slender 19-18 lead with the Airmen making several inroads through their heavy set of forwards. Kandy SC, in addition to their below par performance on the field, were also guilty of some indiscipline play as they were handed one red card and two yellow cards during the second half.

As a result, Air Force SC exploited the situation to good effect and planted two superb tries inside five minutes through Kalana Chamoditha and Gayantha Iddamalgoda with Nuwan Perera converting one try having earlier put over a couple of penalties in the first half.

Havelock SC v Navy SC

Meanwhile, Havelock SC kept their chances alive with a 22-10 victory over Navy SC in another SLR Nippon Paint Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament first-round match played at Welisara.

This was of course, not a convincing win for the Havies as they were made to fight all the way for their points, and it was an injury-time try by Mithun Hapugoda that eventually sealed the contest in their favour.

Havelock SC took a commanding 15-0 lead at half time and were well set to register a comprehensive victory, but the home side produced a stunning performance in the second half to surprise their more fancied opponents.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023 – 01:00

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