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12th July 1998

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Century of Catches
Roshan Mahanama took his 100th catch in one-day internationals on 4th July. He's the first Sri Lankan to achieve this feat, and the 4th in the world. He achieved this in his 194th match.
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Match of all matches

World Cup final: Greatest sports show on earth tonight

CLAIREFONTAINE, France, Saturday (Reuters) - Brazil are a formidable side but they have a porous defence, France captain Didier Deschamps said on the eve of Sunday's final.

"They are a very strong side but they have weaknesses which we must exploit," he said after training yesterday

Deschamps surprised nobody by noting that the defending champions' most dangerous weapons were gifted individuals and a lethal striker in the unpredictable Ronaldo. But the Juventus mifielder said Brazil's obsession with moving the ball forward meant they were vulnerable in defence.

"They score many goals but they also concede quite a few," he said. "It's logical. When a team concentrate on attacking, they leave spaces at the back."

France had never previously reached the World Cup final but now they are determined to go all the way and Deschamps warned: "We have made history but we are not satisfied. We must continue to look ahead."

France have relied on a tight defence in their run to the final, conceding only two goals in six matches, and their captain hinted they would continue to adopt a cautious, tactical approach in their date with destiny.

"We must be very careful in defence and concentrate on winning the ball in midfield," Deschamps said. "We must also make sure that Ronaldo and Bebeto stay frustrated up front. They are only dangerous once they get the ball."

The French players had a light training session yesterday morning in their rural retreat of Clairefontaine outside Paris, then watched videos of Brazil's matches.

"We saw that on several occasions, against teams who knew what to expect from them, they experienced difficulties," Deschamps said.

There was reassuring news for coach Aime Jacquet, who still hopes defensive midfielder Christian Karembeu, nursing a strained left ankle, will be fit to play.

"He had a specific programme in this morning's training session and he is recovering in a satisfactory way," said Jacquet, who will not unveil his starting line-up until shortly before kickoff. Jacquet, possibly boosted by reports that Ronaldo has been troubled by a painful knee, said the Brazilian artists could have an off-day.

"There is still the possibility that the brilliant players they have will not all be at their best," he said. "Our goal remains victory," he added. "The players are waiting for this impatiently. They are living something quite extraordinary and they want to go all the way. Losing the final would be a bitter disappointment for them." The French recognise that Brazil will start clear favourites but are determined to play their hearts out.

"We might lose," Deschamps said reluctantly. "But we will fight for victory. We must make sure that whatever happens, we will have no regrets."

The best teams

By M.Ismeth

After a grueling 33 days of world class football the two best teams of the 32 teams which played, Four times winners Brazil will take on The host nation France in the finals at the Paris Stade de France today.

Brazil beat Hollond 4-2 in penalty shoot out in the first semi final with France edging out Debutantes croatia 2-1 in the second semi final to set up classic confrontation.

The host nation France who will have backing from the home fans will be playing in the finals for the first time. Can France win the trophy and create history by becoming the first host nation in 20 years to win the cup. When France were the hosts in 1938 Italy won the trophy. Although Brazil are the favourites France with little bit of luck and backing of the home fans could stop the defending champions.

On the other hand Brazil will be going all guns blazing to win the trophy for the fifth time.

Spirited CR&FC defeat Havelocks in thriller

By Bernie Wijesekera

After a lack-lustre first half, the unbeaten CR&FC XV came back to their own with a spirited display to defeat their traditional rivals Havelocks SC by 16 points (two tries, a drop goal and a penalty) to 10 (a goal and a drop goal) in the second leg match at Longden Place last evening.

The red shirts led 6-3 at the turn around. In the first leg CR defeated the Havelocks 25-15. With this win CR maintains its winning streak in the ongoing season to head the table of points. Also CRwith this win retains the Eustace Mathysz Challenge Trophy.

The game watched by a large crowd, was played at a slow pace with the respective defences standing firm to keep their line intact.

The CR forwards mauled better with their robust set of forwards where 'lock' Duminda de silva in the line-out was most outstanding to dominate the long throws.

Despite winning much of the good ball, CR could not penetrate the Havelocks defence. The Havelocks rucked better and they played like terriers on the loose, spoiling many CR moves.

CR had to be content with a drop goal put over by fly-half Sajit Mallikarachchi and a penalty put over by Nalaka Weerakkody, CR could have gone further ahead but their three-quarters constantly spilled the ball with the opponents defence in disarray which cost them two certain tries. Paul Bennett had an agonising moment in the game when he fluffed two certain tries. But his booming kicks to touch in defence compensated much for his lapses.

In contrast, the Havelocks put up a plucky display even without their star lock Thushara Jayalath (injured) to keep their opponents at bay. A beautiful drop goal by centre Haren Perera made it 6-3 at the short break.

In the second half CR changed their pattern of play and kept on pressing at the Havelocks defence which resulted in two tries. In the fifth minute, off a five-yard scrum No 8. Nalin Wij-egunewardena barged over for an unconverted try to lead 11-3.

Havelocks too had their moments of glory. In the sixth minute, a 40-yard penalty ensued but the kick taken by Oni Toala lacked direction. In the 12th minute he missed an easy penalty,but Jeffrey Saheed's kick hit the upright!

But CR went ahead off a line-out in the Havelocks '25'.Duminda de Silva plucked the ball, slipped it to Paul Bennett, who passed to Anura Dhammika in turn and then over to Weerakkody who formed the overlap for winger Mushtaq to put the finishing touches for an unconverted try 16-3.During injury time CR scored a peach of a try when flanker Thushara Alles crashed over. Saheed added the extra points when referee Anil Jayasinghe blew no side.

Minister C.V.Gooneratne was the chief guest. He awarded the Eustace Mathysz trophy to the winners.

St. Peter's in U-17 semi finals

By Saif Izzadeen

St Peter's entered the semi-finals when they produced a gallant performance to gain a14 points (two goals) to 6 (two penalties) win over much fancied Royal in the Under17 President's Trophy rugby quarter-final at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.

The Bambalapitiya school who led 7-6 at half time deserved to win. They controlled the game from the start with some cohesive rugby. Their forwards combined well with the three-quarters to give the sparse crowd some eye-catching performances, to outplay the Reid Avenue school.

Royal, who only last week retained the Simithiarachchi Trophy by beating Trinity, didn't look the same. They were completely outplayed by a superior team. Royal found it hard to resist as they were found wanting in defence as well as in attack.

St. Peter's took the lead midway in the first half when they scored a try through Shan Silva, which was converted. St Peter's led 7-0. Royal then got their act together and played some forceful rugby which earned them two penalties. These were converted by Dave Wijewardena to reduce the lead to 7-6. This was the score when the first half ended.

The second half belonged to St.Peter's and they scored in the 15th minute through Mario Oorloff, who covered 30 meters.The try was converted which gave St.Peter's a 14-6 lead. After this St.Peter's made some daring attacks through their three quarters but some good work by the Royalists deprived them of scoring and adding to their score.When the referee blew no side St.Peter's emerged worthy winners.

Madras win regatta by half a length

By Annesley Ferreira

Colombo were pipped on the post by Madras by half a length in the winning Centennial Regatta concluded at the Beira Lake yesterday.

While Ciolombo won the A Fours event to bring the aggregate of points to20, Madras aggregated 24 points.

But the Boat Race tally left Colombo with 34 wins and Madras with 28 with two races being tied.

This race was revived after many years and was conducted by the Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka and the Colombo Rowing Club.

Madras showed their fighting qualities winning the A Pairs and A Sculls with ease while losing the B Pairs and B Sculls while sharing a win over the Ladies events which was worked off for the first time and qualifying for the Colombo/Madras Centennial Challenge Trophy.

The Colombo Rowing Club B Pairs comprised Dave Maurice and Chanaka Talpahewa, who came from behind to snatch victory after being led by the Madras crew for over 20 years.

Colombo won the Ladies Sculls through Mithila Goonawardena and lost the Ladies Pairs, which comprised the two Goonawardena sisters, who are still school girls - Minoli and Mithila.

The Ladies Fours was won by Madras with the Colombo team failing to finish the race due to gear problems with Madras winning the inaugural Ladies Trophy.

Madras assured themselves of the overall championships by winning the B Fours event with Mohit Heswani, T.Yeshwant, B.Dushyant, J.Ramesh and Rahul Gopinath (Cox) defeating the Colombo crew comprising Dilan Sri Chandrasekera, Sanjay Mendis, John de Niese, Dilan Jayasinghe and Senaka de Saram (Cox).

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