Kandy juggernaut halted

Final minute penalty brings CH on par

CH - 13 Kandy-13

By Harry Jayachandra

Philosophers say one should judge oneself by how well one does under pressure. If that is the case CH & FC centre Saliya Kumara can hold his head high. In the last minute of normal time Kumara converted an angular 45 metre penalty. Thus enabling CH to hold reigning champs Kandy to a 13 all draw in their ‘A’ Division Caltex rugby game played at Maitland Crescent yesterday. Kandy scored their points off 2 tries and 1 penalty, While CH converted two penalties and one penalty try.

NOT SO FAST. Kandy SC’s Imran Bisthamin (right) holds CH’s Jayantha Ranaweera by the neck in a bid to stop him from barging through. Action from the CH vs Kandy game which ended in a 13-13 draw at Maitland Crescent yesterday. Pic by Dinuka Liyanawatte.

After their disappointing show against CR & FC last week, many expected the hill country team to vanquish their opposition. CH had other ideas. They made quite a few changes to their pack. And it worked. They outrucked and outhooked their opponents. Kandy has managed to win two matches with below par performances. This week they made to pay for their complacency,

The first five minutes of the game saw a string of turnovers. It ended with Kandy’s fullback Nalaka Weerakkody putting over a simple penalty. Six minutes later CH were awarded a penalty try for a high tackle on CH winger Udaya Kumara. Saliya obliged with the conversion. The home side kept the pressure on and it showed. Kandy flanker Dhanushka Perera was sin binned for a dangerous tackle. With five minutes to go for Lemons Saliya Kumara converted yet another penalty to give the home side a seven point cushion.

Kandy went up a gear in the second half. Sanjeewa Jayasinghe touched down twice to give Kandy the lead. Weerakkody missed both conversions and a relatively easy penalty. CH kept up the pressure and could have scored at least twice had it not been for bad handling. Kumara who had earlier missed two easier attempts, made the one that counted. Weerakkody tried a Johnny Wilkinson like drop kick in injury time, but failed miserably. Had it not been for some butter fingered ball handling in crucial stages, the home side may well have won this game. They were not helped by referee Pradeep Fernando who undid his good work in the last 15 minutes. The rub of the green was certainly not with CH. Fernando’s two bad decisions went against CH and both were in positions where CH could have scored.

But at the end of the day ir was at least a morale victory for CH and gives them a good platform on which to build.

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