Both Navy SC and CH&FC wanted a win as they ran on to the field at Welisara yesterday and expected it was a thriller till the last breath. CH may have stunned the Sailors in the first round with a 27-24 win after a thriller, but the return clash was a total turnaround, with Navy [...]


It was sweet revenge for the bustling Sailors

Yet, the end result was bitter sweet

Former National and Navy skipper, Yoshitha Rajapaksa now turning out for CH&FC during the after-clashes - Pic by Amila Gamage

Both Navy SC and CH&FC wanted a win as they ran on to the field at Welisara yesterday and expected it was a thriller till the last breath. CH may have stunned the Sailors in the first round with a 27-24 win after a thriller, but the return clash was a total turnaround, with Navy coming out winners with the same scoreline but with more entertainment and thrill.

The Sailors would have had their hearts pounding at halftime when CH took the advantage in figures at 17-10, but eventually it was a 27-24 sweet revenge on home turf. Navy scored from three converted tries and two penalties while CH too had the same number of converted tries but one less  penalty.

The players looked at each other as if to say ‘we will get you’ as both teams faced each other waiting for the whistle of referee Irshad Cader. For Navy it was to revenge cum league standing. For CH and FC it was a matter of prestige — remember there are some former Navy stalwarts in the CH basket now.

At the end there was more than rejoicing a win or camaraderie among players but a reason that existed to bitch and moan. It was to be a tension as CH were fielding six players who played at Welisara last year.

The game was meandering with no promising rugby as Navy was more in CH territory for the first 15 minutes. They failed to capitalise and put points on the board. Around the 16th minute CH broke away and entered the Navy territory and earned a penalty for incorrect entry and Samuel Maduwantha, the CH fullback, made good a kick taken 22 metres from touch give his team the lead 3-0.

In the 30th minute CH moved the ball well and a high tackle by the goal line saw referee Cader conferring with TMO Anil Jayasinghe and made up his mind to award a penalty try for CH, thus they took the lead at 10-0.

It appeared that Navy were on the back foot despite being in CH territory and in the 30th minute they lost the ball in the breakdown. CH back Avantha Lee pounced and hacked deep and was in good flight to collect the ball that bounced right to score and Maduwantha made no mistake with the kick. That effort extended CH’s lead to 17-0. This was a point when Navy needed to score more than once if they are to be in contention in the second half.

In the 34th minute Navy fullback Thilina Weerasinghe kicked a penalty through the posts for the hosts to record the first score. Navy prop Kasun de Silva scored in the 40th minute and Weerasinghe converted to take the half time with CH leading by 17-10.

On resumption in the 5th minute CH, pressing the Navy territory, got a penalty for wrong entry by the opponents.CH opted for a scrum from five metres out, creating an opening for flanker Rohitha Rajapaksa, wearing the No.10 jersey, to pick up from the base and score. Maduwantha converted and CH moved ahead 24-10.

With pressure building for the Sailors to score they got within 10 metres from the CH line but were met with a stout CH defense. CH were penalised three times but Navy did as they tried but failed to score. But CH paid the price as front row forward Raveen Yapa was shown the yellow card in the 14th minute for infringing at the break down.

At this stage flanker Yosiatha Rajapaksa left the field to allow Yohan Perera to come in as a temporary replacement to complement the front row. Perera however was shown the yellow card in the 16th minute for a dangerous tackle of taking a player off feet. CH were reduced to 13 men allowing Navy replacement prop Stephen Gregory to score. Weerasinghe added extra points but Navy still trailed 17-24 by the halfway of the second half.

In the 25th minute CH replacement front row Rahal Yapa was sent to the bin as Navy moved into CH territory and made some good forward play to see lock Lahiru Wishwajith touchdown. With Weerasinghe’s conversion the scores leveled at 24-all.

This was the time for tension to increase and for supports to pressurise the match official and in the melee the referee once again spoke to the TMO to clarify on who knocked on first as he was unsighted and the assistant referee also unclear. This resulted in a scrum to Navy giving them a lease of life.

In the 80th minute with anxiety creeping CH’s Maduwantha was penalised for a professional foul at the break down and was given a yellow card, and his rival number Weerasinghe, made no mistake with the conversion and the final whistle was blown as Navy won the match 27-24.

This was a game that kept the teams on edge and Navy did well to come back. However the ugly head of indiscipline raised its head as a Navy player ran towards CH players with an ‘up yours’ challenge. The game was over and the rivalry between players who once played together reached a climax with some players going for each other. Some members of the team staff too got involved as supporters of both sides converged while players went for each other. The scene was ugly and does not do any good for the game.

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