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Kandy in superb fight-back - beat Army 30-9

It was rugby at its best as the defending Caltex League Champions Kandy Sports Club staged a magnificent victory over the gallant Sri Lanka Army to post a 30 points (1 goal, 4 tries, 1 penalty) to 9 (3 penalties) in their Caltex rugby league match played at the Nittawela rugby stadium in Kandy yesterday. At lemons it was the Soldiers who led 6-3.

The Soldiers after their recent resounding success in the battlefield in the North, displayed what a disciplined force they are by playing fast open rugby which not only rattled the defending champions but also thrilled the crowds.

Army surged into an early lead through 40 metre penalty fired by stand off Kapila Knowlton in the 2nd minute of play.

But six minutes later Kandy equalised through a 35 metre penalty put over by stand-off Fazil Marija.

Thereafter all efforts by Kandy to penetrate the defence put up by the Soldiers proved futile.

After missing a couple of long distance penalties, stand off Kapila Knowlton came good in the 32nd minute when he knocked over a 45 metre penalty for the Soldiers to take over the lead at half time, Army 6-3.

Army continued to dominate play in the early stages of the second half with some power play which did not have the finish.

In the fifth minute of the second half Army further increased their lead to 9-3 through a 40 metre penalty converted by stand off Kapila Knowlton.

Kandy brought into play from the reserves bench winger Radhika Hettiarachchi, hooker Anuranga Walpola and flanker Dilip Selvam in place of Sameera Silva, Arvinda Udagamuwa and Zafeer Jhan and this had the desired effect.

In the 6th minute of the second half scrum half Prasad Chaturanga sent out a low pass to stand off Fazil Marija who cut through Army defence a good 40 metres to score far left. Full back Mohamed Sheriff failed to add the extra points. But still Army led 9-8.

It was in the 16th minute of this half or the 56th minute of the match that Kandy took the lead for the first time in the match when Chaturanga-Marija combined effort saw ball reading winger Sanjeewa Jayasinghe who ran along the live about 25 metres before touching down by the right corner flag. Marija failed to add the extra points Kandy took the lead for the first time. 13-9.

There was no stopping of this Kandy side who put into play several ploys which the Soldiers found it difficult to counter and was rattled in the process.

In the 20th minute a scrum mid field saw the ball coming out Kandy’s way and scrum half Prasad Chaturanga slung a pass to Fazil Marija who after covering some distance, handed the ball to No. 8 Sajith Saranga who pounded his way to fall over far lift. Winger Radhika Hettiarachchi failed to add the extra points. Kandy 18-9 but still not safe from defeat.

In the 25th minute a scrum near the posts saw Kandy moving the ball to the right flag and winger Sanjeewa Jayasinghe giving the finishing touches to it. Radhika Hettiarachchi failed to add the extra points. Kandy 23-9.

In the 40th minute of play saw the best try of the match when stand of Fazil Marija ran a good 20 metre with the ball and when challenged switch a pass to winger Radhika Hettiarachchi who sent a pass again to Fazil Marija to plunge over the right corner flag. Radhika Hettiarachchi made a beautiful conversion.

Nizam Jamaleen refereed.

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