Havies drown the soldiers in a show of guile
Havelocks weathered the Army and the rain and ran home winners by 29 points (3 goals, 1 try and 1 penalty) to 19 (2 goals and a try) in their Round one match of the Dialog Rugby League at Police Park yesterday.
The much needed win for both teams ended on a high note for the Park Club and at the end of the first half Havelocks led 21 (3 goals) to 14 (2 goals) by the Army.
The game started off well with both teams, who had a fair share of the exchanges, but withered to a game of unforced errors as heavy rain beat in just as halftime was blown. The condition continued till the final whistle, transforming the field into an virtual paddy field.
Army started off menacingly, with prop Sugath Nanayakkara making a strong run and did a good offload for flanker Sanjaya Ratnayake to score in the 4th minute. Fullback Gayan Salinda converted as Army led 7-0, giving the Havies a scary reminder of what they underwent against the Sailors last weekend.
Receiving a penalty in the 7th minute inside the Army 22, Havies decided to scrum down than go for a three-pointer, and they were promptly rewarded. A try by centre Hirantha Perera and a successful conversion by outside half Dulaj Perera leveled the scores at 7-all. But the Havies probably were shaken when Army scrumhalf Rizvi Mohamed broke away, three minutes later, to score after 30- metre run and Salinda converted as the Soldiers regained the lead 14-7.
Notwithstanding the mental pressure, the Havies struck back in the 21st minute when wing three quarter Sudarsaka Dikkumbura touched down for Perera to convert as scores leveled again, 14-all.
A misfield in the midfield by Army fullback Salinda in the 28th minute saw Havelocks' Nishon Perera seeing space to score close to the flag taking also a Army defender who was clinging on, for around five metres. Perera made his third successive conversion as Havelocks led 21-14.
Two minutes before the short whistle Army gained possession off a line-out but they knocked on the ball at the base, Referee Rohan Fernando did not prevent them from crafting a try off a well sold -- a beautiful dummy. However Referee Fernando seemed in doubt and consulted the Assistant Referee and went back to award a scrum to the Havies. Then came the halftime where the ultimate winners led by 21-14.
The second half was played under heavy rain and a water- logged pitch taking the off the promised sting off the game. In the 6th minute Havelocks was penalised for a high tackle, but Army having trooped into their opponent's territory, lost the ball and allowed Havelocks to get away. Around the 10th minute, Havelocks lock and captain Jason Melder was assigned to the bin.
Army had their opportunity around the 12th minute and shoved over the line but knocked on in the process. They then broke off the grip and off ensuring ball movement Sampath Kumara, who came off the bench and scored an unconverted try. Havelocks 21, Army 19. In the 20th minute Havies kicker Perera put through a penalty for the Park Club to lead 24-19.
Havelocks had three penalties in around 5 minutes and within 5 metres, but the continued pick and hit did not help them. In the 34th minute they worked wide and the wet ball changed hands for wing three Chamara Dabare to score and for jubilant Havelocks to earn bonus points. This was not converted. Havelocks looked to be romping home with the score reading 29-19.
In the dying stages of the game lock Sithum Peiris was sent to bin for side entry as Army was attacking the goal line. As the rain receded, the long whistle was blown giving relief to all the Park Club supporters.
Both teams had to fight the weather - Pic by Amila Gamage