By Shehan Daniel
If there were points for effort then perhaps the score line would have read more flatteringly for Air Force SC, but the final tally reflected the superiority of Havelock SC instead, as they eased to a 46-23 victory in the Dialog Rugby League encounter at Havelock Park yesterday.
It was a less than stellar performance from Havelocks, a team with title aspirations, whose infringements on either side of the ball would have been punished by better quality teams. Air Force, for all the pockets of pressure they put on the hosts, lacked the incisiveness to cut through the Havelock’s defense.
Air Force ran in two goals and put over three penalties, while the home team ran in eight tries, of which three were converted while centre Hirantha Perera completed a stunning hat-trick.
Havies fullback Riza Mubarak also had a below par performance with his kicking, missing five of the eight conversions he attempted, with Air Force Centre Charith Senaviratne having better success with his kicks at goal.
Senaviratne missed his first kick, a second minute penalty, which would have given Air Force the lead, and Havelock subsequently took the ball to the other end to score off a lineout, with Shehan Dias scoring in the left corner. Mubarak’s conversion was wide of the mark.
Air Force then enjoyed perhaps their best phase of the game camping in the Havelock’s half, with Seneviratne putting over 15th and 18th minute penalties and giving the Airmen their first and only lead of the game.
Havelocks then capitalized on a lineout within touching distance of the try line to send in Hooker Prasad Madushanka for his first try, before Centre HiranthaPerera sped past the Air Force defenders to pick up a grubber kick and touchdown. Mubarak again failed to convert the tries, with the hosts leading 15-06 after 30 minutes.
Senaviratne put over his a penalty four minutes later, but that was wiped out three minutes from half-time when Havelock’s again capitalized on a line-out to send Perera through the middle, giving the hosts a 22-09 half-time lead.
Madushanka then added his second try six minutes after the break, with an unconverted try, before the Airmen hit back through Radeesha Seneviratne with their first try. Charith Senaviratne continued his fine kicking with a successful conversion.
Having missed out on a couple of occasions to score a try, Winger Kevin Dixon finally broke past the Air Force defence to score in the left corner, with Mubarak again missing the extra points.
Madushanka was then sent to the sin-bin in the 66th minute for repeatedly falling in the ruck, and the Airmen made use of the numerical advantage to score their second try, when Niroshan Rajanayaka scored near the posts. Senaviratne’s conversion was the last points the Air Force would score in the game.
Havelocks then ran in their last two tries, with Dixon completing a brace and then his midfield partner Nishon Perera adding the final points at the final whistle.
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