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CR won’t have it easy against Air Force today

RUGBY: Defending Clifford Cup champions CR and FC face a fierce challenge from plate champions Sri Lanka Air Force in the second quarter-final of the Caltex inter-club knock-out Rugby Tournament for the Clifford Cup at Royal Sports Complex, Reid Avenue today.

The Airmen are in a buoyant mood having clinched the Plate Championship of the Caltex ‘A’ Division League tournament and have been practising hard during the last few days at their grounds at Ratmalana and should give the Red Shirts a close run in today’s match.

CR and FC have made two changes for today’s match. Burly lock forward Henry Terrence has been shifted to the front row with Hasitha Perera filling the vacant lock forward’s barth while Sri Lanka hooker Anuja Perera making a welcome return to the side at the expense of Senttil Kumar.

The Airmen have made three changes with Chanaka Chandimal moving to the fly half position with regular fly half Nalin Sirisena shifting to the last line of defence. Winger Suranga Arunashantha will play as a centre with regular full back Rohan Fernando moving to the winger’s berth.

CR and FC’s power-packed forwards Mohamed, Anuja Perera, Terrence, Dharmatilleke, Wijetunga and Kasun de Silva are likely to be given a torrid time by the Air Force ‘eight’ with Saumya Silva, Withanage, Ediriweera, Bandara, Weeraratna and skipper Kurukulasuriya giving a fiery display in the loose.

In the set scrams CR’s Anuja Perera should get the better of his vis-a-vis Vithanage while the line outs should be shared between the CR trio of Dharmatilleke, Hasitha Perera and Karthalis and Air Force’s Bandara, Soysa and Kurukulasuriya.

The Red Shirts gave a dazzling display of open rugby against Kandy SC last week and a repeat performance should see them emerge victorious today.

The halves combination of Amjad Buksh and Ashan de Costa has hit it off smoothly while hard running centres Hettiarachchi and Lasintha de Costa (who had a splendid game against Kandy) should be able to slice through the Air Force defence but the biggest threat to the Air Force defence will be posed by winger Dinesh Kumara with his powerful runs down the flank.

The teams:

CR, and FC - Shamil Mohamed, Anuja Perera, Henry Terrence, Hasitha Perera, Anuradha Dharmatilleke (Captain), Ashan Karthelis, Kasun de Silva, Naveen Wijetunge, Amjad Bukah and Ashan de Costa, Dinesh Kumara, Lasintha de Costa, Arantha Hettiarachchi, Ranvidra Wekadapola, Radhika Hettiarachchi.

Air Force- Saumya Silva, Duminda Vithanage, Samarahewa, Bandara, Prasanna Soysa, Pathum Ediriweera, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya (Captain), Dinesh Weeraratne, Radeesha Seneviratne and Chanaka Chandimal, Roshan Ratnayake, Charith Seneviratne, Suranga Arunashantha, Roshan Fernando, Nalin Sirisena.

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