Kandy SC are the league rugby champs for 2008. But the way they achieved their last win in the competition against CR&FC at Longden Place yesterday will long be remembered. They had to fight tooth-and-nail to ward off a red hot challenge. Ultimately they nosed through at 13-11 win with the lead changing hands on no less than four occasions. Kandy collected their points through a goal and two penalties while CR’s points were made up of a try and two penalties.
CR has to be the bridesmaid once again. A win for the Longden Place club yesterday would not have altered the course as Kandy had already achieved the league title long before the contest ended. But CR had one intention. That was to make Kandy eat humble pie. But they were simply not up to the mark yesterday to make that happen.
If I had any choice in picking a man of the match I would not hesitate to name CR’s diminutive winger Suranga Pushpakumara to this title. The young winger who came into prominence whilst playing for Trinity a few years ago after crossing over from Vidyartha, had the Kandy defence on the hop with his ferret like running. It is a pity that most of his runs fell on the way side due to lack of support.
The first half belonged to CR and they scored in the 26th minute when winger Mohammed Sheriff darted through the Kandy defence and when he faltered Dinesh Kumar was there to pick up the ball and score an unconverted try far left to put CR ahead at 5-0. In the 38th minute CR further consolidated their position when Mohammed Sheriff put over a penalty and CR crossed over with a 8-0 lead under their belts. CR’s Henry Terence was shown the yellow card and was sent to the sin-bin in this half.
Kandy showed that they are not going to allow the red shirts to have their own way when Saliya Kumara put over a 25 meter penalty in the ninth minute of the second session (CR-8. Kandy 3).
CR retaliated quickly through a 40 meter penalty put over by Mohammed Sheriff. (CR-11. Kandy 3)
Kandy roared back through a try by Radhika Hettiarachchi and Saliya Kumara converted to put Kandy just a point away from CR at 11-10.
The next minutes produced some exciting play to keep spectators on the edge of their seats. Mohammed Sheriff made a breathtaking break for CR and Saliya Kumara put over a 35 meter penalty for Kandy to put them ahead at 13-11. In the dying moments CR missed a penalty through Mohammed Sheriff to kick away what ever chances of winning the game.
Referee Pradeep Fernando was escorted to the pavilion by a tight cordon of security men after the game.
The final match in the 2008 league contest will be played today when Army take on Police at Police Park