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Navy and Air Force out to impress in 'A' Division league

The Sri Lanka Navy which made a sensational re-entry into the club rugby scene after a lapse of three years with a magnificent display at the Club Rugby Sevens should be a force to be reckoned with in the Caltex 'A' division league rugby tournament which begins in the second week of May.

The sailors came up with a superb performance to clinch the Bowl Championship in the Club Rugby Sevens at Nittawela and two weeks later gave another sterling display in the Club Rugby Sevens at Longden Place. They beat the more fancied Havelocks in the quarter-finals of the Cup Championship and went down fighting to mighty Kandy SC by 12-19 in extra time before losing to the formidable CH and FC by 7-14 in the Plate final.

Two top ruggerites who rendered yeoman service for the Navy during the period 2001 to 2005 - flanker Ravi Jayasuriya and sturdily built No. 8 Sumedha Malewana will once again turn out for the Navy this year having played for Havelocks and CH and FC respectively for the last three years when the Navy did not play competitive rugby.

Malewana and Jayasuriya turned out for Sri Lanka with distinction and they will form a formidable third row for Navy along with former Thomian skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa. Veteran prop forward U. G. M. Suranga will also once again turn out for the Sailors along with ex-Kandy SC prop forward Manchanayake.

Three outstanding ruggerites from Havelocks - fly half Samantha Lakshan, centre Dilip Methruwan and full back Nuwan Hettiarachchi have joined the Navy along with former CR scrum half Suranga Pushpakumara, ex-Kandy SC winger Eranda Weerakkody, former Trinity and CR centre Kosala Tissera and ex-CH and FC winger Niranjan Wickremaratne.

With their presence the sailors should be able to field a penetrative three quarter line.

A coach with a proven track record - former Kingswoodian Ronnie Ibrahim has been entrusted with the task of coaching the sailors and he is determined to mould them into a formidable outfit which could give the leading clubs a run for their money during the league season.

Last year's Plate champions of the Caltex 'A' division league, Sri Lanka Air Force are also determined to give of their best in the forthcoming 'A' division league rugby tournament.

The Air Force side is a blend of youth and experience. They will have the services of several seasoned campaigners and talented youngsters and should give the leading clubs a close run.

Led by prop forward Kosala Ranasinghe, the Airmen will have a formidable pack with players of the calibre of Saumya Silva, Pubudu Kodagoda, Tharaka Chandimal, Pradeep Kurukulasuriya and last year's skipper Dinesh Weeraratne, in addition to last year's Trinity prop forward Mohamed Riyazi.

Fly half Chanaka Chandimal and centre Suranga Arunashantha who donned the Sri Lanka jersey at the Asian Five Nations tournament in Dubai should play a vital role in Air Force's success this year. Chandimal will pair off with young Radeesha Seneviratne while Arunashantha will play alongside Charith Seneviratne as centres. Veteran Rohan Fernando who has stood out with his safe collections and booming kicks to touch should once again man the last line of defence with the wings likely to be occupied by Roshan Ratnayake and last year's Antonian skipper Chanaka Gunaratne.

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