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Silva’s return a morale-booster for Army team

Former Sri Lanka full back T.A. Silva who missed the entire season last year makes a welcome return to the Army rugby team and has been entrusted with the task of leading the soldiers in the Caltex ‘A’ Division League Rugby Tournament which kicks off on May 2. The soldiers will come out for the first time when they confront Havelocks Sports Club on May 4 (Sunday).

Silva has turned out for Army with distinction for over a decade and was an automatic choice for the Sri Lanka rugby team in 2005 and 2006 in their Rugby World Cup qualifying matches against Thailand, Singapore, Kazakhstan, China and Hong Kong before being left out of the team last year.

He is an accurate place kicker and a fine attacking full back who has the knack of joining the line to form the overlap and his return should be a morale-booster for the soldiers who finished fifth in last year’s Caltex ‘A’ Division League Tournament.

With Silva manning the last line of defence last year’s full back Kapila Knowlton will move to his accustomed position of centre and will play alongside either former Sri Lanka Sevens player Asanka Perera or Suranga Pilimatalawa. That powerful runner Saliya Handapangoda will occupy one wing with either Perakum Fernando or Duminda Wickremaratne filling the other berth.

Young Tharindu Darshana will once again operate from the base of the scrum and will pair off with the vastly improved fly half Upul Kumara.

The soldiers will once again field a formidable pack spearheaded by Sri Lanka poolist Nushal Meepage and also includes prop forward Asela Palihena hooker Asoka Jayalal, lock forwards Ajith Pushpakumara and Ratnayake, No. 8 Manoj Silva and flankers Nishantha Kobbekaduwa and Asoka Jayasena.

Havelocks Sports Club which won both league matches against Army by 20-10 and 25-13 last year will be led by former Sri Lanka second row forward Kavinda Jayasena and will field virtually the same team which did duty for them last year.

Veteran prop forward Shafi Hassen will once again bind down with either Sandaruwan or Kasun Yasaisuru in the front row with the experienced Rajiv Perera occupying the hooker’s berth. Skipper Jayasena and burly Chathuranga Amarasinghe will be the lock forwards while the formidable third row will comprise former Sri Lanka No. 8 Rajiv Ganapathy and flankers T.D. Seneviratne and Ravi Jayasuriya (who had a marvellous season last year).

Young Dilan de Zoysa or the experienced Roshan Rajapakse will operate from the base of the scrum and will pair off with Samantha Lakshan while two hard runners and solid tacklers veteran Ruwan Suranga and Nuwan Samith are likely to fill the centre berths. Sri Lanka ‘Sevens’ player Wasim Thajudeen will occupy one wing with the other position being filled by either Ruchira Ratnage or Chanaka Fonseka.

The experienced Dilip Methruwan or Sri Lanka Youth player Nuwan Hettiarachchi from Dharmaraja will be manning the last line of defence for the Park Club.

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