Havies drown the sol­diers in a show of guile

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT - By Vi­mal Per­era

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

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