Triple rugby crown for Kandy SC
Defending Caltex Clifford Cup knock out champions Kandy Sports Club
completed the 'red wash' of CR and FC when they beat them for the third
time this season by 21 points (1 goal, 1 try 2 penalties) to nil to lift
the Clifford Cup for the 14th time and complete the rugby triple in the
finals of the Caltex Clifford Cup knock tournament match played at the
Nittawela Rugby Stadium in Kandy on Sunday. At half time Kandy Sports
Club had almost wrapped up the match leading 15-0.
Kandy SC the glamour boys of the local rugby scene first won the
Dialog Professional Rugby Sevens, and also the Caltex League tournament
and completed the triple crown by winning the Clifford Cup.
They have now become highest number of winners of the Clifford Cup
winning it 14 times since 1992. CR and FC have won it 13 times with
their first win coming in 1952. This will give some indication as to how
the ruggerites from Kandy have dominated the Clifford Cup scene.
Heavy rain which fell one hour before the match made ground
conditions met and slippery and no conducive to fast open rugby. But
both teams handled the wet ball well. Kandy SC had plenty of possession
coming in their from the line outs through good jumping by Zafeer Jhan,
Sumedha Jayasinghe and Imran Bisthamin and in the tight heads too hooker
Anuranga Walpola struck faster than young Navin Wijetunga of CR and FC.
The loose play appeared to be even.
It was CR and FC who dominated play in the first quarter of the game
making in roads into Kandy territory but some sustained play by the
Kandy's three quarters prevented them from scoring. In fact they could
have opened scoring in the 12th when they were awarded a penalty by
centre Lasintha de Costa fluffed a 35 metre kick at goal.
In the 21st minute of play Kandy were awarded a penalty when a CR
player was spotted off side but scrum half Saliya Kumara's kick at goal
struck the uprights and rebounded into play. Shortly afterwards CR and
FC's Suranga Pushpakumara was sent on 'sin bin (for dangerous) play.
The first scoring in the match came in the 29th minute of the first
half when Kandy's scrum half Saliya Kumara picket up the ball from a
ruck situation and slipped a pass to stand off Fazil Harija who in turn
gave the ball to centre Pradeep Liyanage who with a fiery burst of speed
touched down mid right. Scrum half Saliya Kumara's kick at goal was off
target but the referee re-warded the kick as CR players had moved early.
But the second kick too was off target. Kandy led 5-0.
In the 35th minute of a CR player was penalised for 'killing the
ball' and Saliya Kumara put over a 35 metre penalty for Kandy to
increase their lead to 8-0.
Kandy continued to attack and CR and FC were forced to defend grimly.
During the injury time of the first half it was that man scrum half
Saliya Kumara who broke off and sent a pass to centre Pradeep Liyanage
who covered some distance and switched a pass to full back Radhika
Hettiarachchi who formed the overlap and with a powerful run scored by
the left corner flag. Saliya Kumara made a great conversion for Kandy to
lead 15-0 sending into smoke all hopes of the red shirts making a come
back. The second half the red shirts making some tractional changes and
some concerted effort to break Kandy's defence which held back like
Kandyan fortress of the good old days.
Rain which fell during the half time made ground conditions difficult
and the light was fading with an Easterly wind blowing. At the stage had
only 13 players on the field with look forward Zafeer Jhan and centre
Gayan Weeraratne being sent on 'sin bin', But still CR and FC could not
breach Kandy's defence which held on like a rock.
In the 18th minute CR and FC player was penalised for a high tackle
and Radhika Hettiarachchi converted a 40 metre penalty for Kandy to lead
18-0. In the 24th minute another CR defender was spotted playing from an
off side position and Kandy took the surprise decision of asking their
winger Sameera Silva to take the penalty kick and to much to the
surprise of everyone he converted it with a brilliant kick which was a
40 metre effort.
CR and FC tried hard to score with a sustained attack in the last 10
minutes of play to break their 'duck' but the more they tried, the more
determined were their opponents in their defence. The last 10 minutes of
play was played in semi darkness with the players hardly able to
recognize each other. It was so dark that the ground authorities
switched on the lights on the grandstand side to improve the light
Tobei Lodthian from Hongkong refereed the match. Saliya Kumara of
Kandy Sports Club was adjudged the 'Most Outstanding player of the
Doing the honours at the Presentation of Awards ceremony were
Managing Director of Chevron Caltex Kishu Gomes.