By Harsha Amarasinghe
The Kandy SC centre who walked away with the Player-of-the-Final Award, produced a top class offload to send Jason Dissanayake over in the fourth minute of the final after the tournament favourites had been stunned by a second-minute try by Dialog fly half Niroshan Fernando.
Dialog who had outclassed John Keells 40-5 in the semi-final, however took a half time lead of 12-7 courtesy of a try from Thilina Wijesinghe deep into the first half.
Access having defeated MAS 14-10 in the semi-final, were overwhelming favourites to claim the title on paper, but with a five-point deficit it appears as if they were going to come second just like last year.
However, Richard Dharmpala’s team came out all guns blazing in the second half as they gained a lead for the first time in the match through an excellent try seconds into the second half.
CR and FC captain Kavindu Perera broke through the Dialog defence before being tackled by Wijesinghe, but the former Vidyartha College player spotted the supporting run made by Ranjan, and executed a brilliant pass sending him over for their second try which was converted by Tarinda Ratwatte.
Second half substitutes Kevin Dixon and Naveen Henakankanamge also combined well to set up their third try as the latter chased down a chip from Dixon before returning the ball to the former St. Peter’s College Captain who went under the post while there was time for a bit of Srinath Sooriyabandara magic at the very end as he skipped past the Dialog defence before virtually handing over the ball to Dharmapala to score their fourth claiming their third Mercantile sevens title after 2000 and 2016.
MAS who had been a very successful team in the Mercantile 7’s history finished third after John Keells ‘A’ had withdrawn from the play-off.
However, John Keells ‘B’ Team rallied around to beat Classic Travels 14-7 in the Plate final while Dialog ‘B’ claimed the Shield beating Ceylon Tea Brokers 14-12 in the final.
Citizens Development Bank (CDB) secured the Bowl as they trounced Allianz Insurance 19-14 in the final.
The Young Player-of-the-Tournament was awarded to Heshan Jansen of CDB while John Keells ‘B’ speedster Hashan Maduranga was named Promising Player-of-the-Tournament.
Victorious Access Team celebrates
Pix By Nisal Baduge