By Shannon Nicholas
In-form CH & FC emerged victorious as they beat Air Force Sports Club 28-12 in a rain-stricken Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament second-round game played at the Race Course Grounds in Reid Avenue yesterday.
The winners, who led 10-9 at half time collected their points from two goals, one unconverted try and three penalties while the Airmen were able to score only four penalties.
The CH & FC outfit went into the game with their heads high after their magnificent win over Havelock SC last week, but it was the visitors who struck first.
Charith Senevirathne bisected the poles through a penalty within minutes to set off the scoreboard ticking.
Air Force SC managed to double the lead when an infringement by CH & FC led to another penalty being awarded to them, which was successfully converted by Senevirathne. (6-0).
CH & FC managed to hit back when Samuel Maduwantha converted a penalty 10 minutes later.
Avishka Lee took CH & FC in front when he touched down after getting through the Air Force SC defence with ease.
Maduwantha converted to make the scores read 6-10.
On the verge of half time, Air Force SC managed to cut down the lead to a point when Senevirathne converted his third penalty before Referee Priya Suranga blew the short whistle.
Two back-to-back penalties by Maduwantha helped CH & FC extend their lead after play resumed, amending the scores to 9-16, but his counterpart Senevirathne was also able to slot in a penalty, bringing CH & FC back into the game. (16-12).
Imantha Kurukulasooriya was able to squeeze through the Air Force SC backline to showcase a beautiful try in the 67th minute, after excellent team play by the CH & FC players. (21-12).
Both teams pushed forward in search of points but neither of them were able to capitalise on their chances.
Lee Keegal exhibited a fine 40 metre run minutes later as he danced himself towards the try line to touchdown. With Maduwantha’s conversion, the scores were amended to 28-12, before the long-whistle was blown.
Preview: CH face reality check
By Harsha Amarasinghe
CH and FC have relied heavily on their starting XV for most of the season and the forwards in particular have been hugely influential in their success so far, but the Maitland Crescent Club face a reality check when they face Air Force Sports Club without four of their first team members in the Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament match at Race Course today.
Giant second row Sajith Saranga who has been in the form of his life in the recent weeks, is set to be sidelined with an ankle injury while flanker Sasanka Ariyarathne will also be out of the Air Force game with a knee injury.
Prop Sathya Rantunga who was unavailable for their game against Havelock Sports Club last week is yet to recover from a knee injury which will see Alexander Rahul remain in the front row while second row Matheesha Sarathchandra has returned to the first XV after serving a one game ban while Srinath Wimalaweera has also secured the place in the CH pack.
Centre Ryan Weerakoon who was stretched off last week following a head injury will not be available for today’s game, but the CH management is certain that the former Trinity back division player could be fit for next week.
Full-back Avantha Lee who has had a stunning start to his inter-club career will also miss the Air Force game due to an illness which will bring in Ruwan Kumara to wing three quarter pushing Dinushan Ariyapala to full-back position.
Air Force have also been struggling with injuries with Charith Senevirathne being ruled out of the game with a knee injury while full-back Rumesh Ramdas and hooker Pandula Bandara are expected to play with pain.
Senevirathne has been replaced by Pabasara Hewage while kicking responsibilities will be taken up by fly-half Gayantha Iddamalgoda.
CH and FC: Henry Terence, Pulasthi Bandara, Alexander Rahul, Matheesha Sarathchandra, Pradeep Kurukulasooriya, Srinath Wimalawera, Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Rohitha Rajapaksa, Avishka Lee and Samuel Maduwantha, Anurada Herath, Chula Susantha, Lee Keegel, Ruwan Kumara, Dinushan Ariyapala
Air Force: Ranuka Medegedara, Pandula Bandara, Amal Dassanayke, Nilantha Jayaweera, S. Madushan, Gimhana Silva, Radeesha Senevirathne, Saraka Warella, Isuru Jayaratne and Gayantha Iddamalgoda, Anjana Vinodh, Sooriya Krishan, Pabasara Hewage, Amila Bandara, Rumesh Ramdas
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