Keegel double hands CH thrilling win
By Harsha Amarasinghe
Centre Lee Keegel played stellar role as CH and FC secured their first league victory in three years ending a 35-match losing streak, with a thrilling 19 points (two tries, three penalties) to 12 points (two tries, one conversion) victory over CR and FC in their Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament match worked off at the Race Course Grounds in Reid Avenue yesterday. CH led 11-7 at the breather.
The former Navy SC back division player touched down in the 19th minute after a penalty from place-kicker Samuel Maduwantha had given the hosts a 3-0 lead 10 minutes into the kick-off.
It was a stunning individual try from the former Peterite as he ran through the Red Shirts’ defence on the left-flank and despite a last-ditch tackle from CR and FC full back Chamod Fernando, Keegel was able to dive over for a try near the corner flag.
In the second half, the Sri Lanka centre put the finishing touches to a stylish try which was set up by a chip from makeshift fly half Maduwantha who spotted space in the left wing.
Keegel was quick to make use of the opportunity as he collected the ball and crossed the try line in the 49th minute taking a 16-7 lead with Maduwantha failing to convert the try.
Maduwantha however, added nine points through penalties and handled the responsibility of a fly half quite brilliantly.
In the process the former St. Anthony’s player outclassed his opposite number Chanaka Chandimal who had a very quiet day.
Tarinda Ratwatte who led the Red Shirts to a memorable comeback win last week, had a pretty ordinary evening despite being able to score a consolation try at the very end.
The Sri Lanka Sevens player missed two pretty straightforward penalties which could have given them the lead at half-time.
They were given hope in the first half when wing three quarter Reeza Raffaideen finished off a well-worked three-quarter move by CR and FC in the 23rd minute but the visitors were left to rue numerous passing errors which proved to be costly.
Like last week, full-back Rehan Silva and wing three quarter Sashan Mohamed were brought-on in the second half but both of them failed to score this time around.
However, Silva prevented CR and FC from conceding a third try late in the second half when the former Isipathana College back division player stopped the CH and FC flanker Yoshitha Rajapaksa from scoring what looked to be a certain try inches away from the line.
PREVIEW: CR targets three-in-a-row
By Harsha Amarasinghe
CR and FC will look to claim a provisional lead in the Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament as the Red Shirts are heading to a crunch clash against the CH and FC at the Race Course Grounds today (17).
The Longden Place club that slotted in at third place of the points table with two wins will take the field under the leadership of stand-in Captain Tarinda Ratwatte knowing that a victory over CH and FC will give them a provisional lead in the competition with this being the only game scheduled for today.
Head Coach Fereti Verebula has made a host of changes to the forward pack which will see the former Isipathana College third rower Vageesha Weerasinghe replacing his schoolmate Omalka Gunarathne for a starting berth at number eight while Ashen Fernando and Kokila Sammandapperuma have been brought back to the front row replacing Gayan Jayasekara and Hafeez Noor.
Meanwhile, Shemal Weerasekara is expected to join Gayan Dilshan in the second row in place of Sashika Fernando.
Despite a difficult beginning to the Inter-Club season last week, the former Isipathana full-back Chamod Fernando has retained his place in the squad along with wing three quarter Asith Wijesinghe which will force CR and FC to leave Rehan Silva and Sashan Mohamed out on the bench.
The Sri Lanka Sevens duo made a real difference in the previous game coming off the bench where they defeated Navy SC 38-23 overcoming a half-time deficit of 7-23.
Ratwatte however, would once again be the main man for the Red Shirts. Playing at slightly unfamiliar centre position, the former Trinity College Captain put together a fine display last week scoring twice.
The 23-year-old will relish the battle this evening against his former schoolmate Ryan Weerakoon who is set to be handed his full debut for the CH and FC.
Although Rohitha Rajapaksa has been included as the fly-half in the official CH and FC line-up, a source close to the club revealed that there is a possibility of him being used as the number eight bringing Samuel Maduwantha to fly-half.
Henry Terence and Sathya Ranatunga have been restored in the starting XV after the two senior props were dropped to the bench in the second week during their 15-20 defeat to Army Sports Club.
CH and FC wing three quarter Anurada Herath is set to face his old club and the Sri Lanka Sevens player would surely want to put up a better performance than what he could execute in the first two weeks of the tournament.
Lee Keegal has been CH and FC’s best player so far, but the former Navy SC centre has to rediscover his try-scoring form if the Maitland Crescent Club are to register their first victory in as many years.
CH and FC: Henry Terence, Pulasthi Bandara, Sathya Ranatunga, Matheesha Sarathchandra, Sajith Saranga, Sasanka Ariyaratne, Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Tiran Warnakula, Rizwan Ali and Rohitha Rajapaksa, Ruwan Kumara, Lee Keegal, Ryan Weerakoon, Anurada Herath, Samuel Maduwantha.
CR and FC: Ashen Fernando, Supun Warnakulasooriya, Kokila Sammandapperuma, Charana Chamikara, Gayan Dilshan, Shemal Weerasekara, Joel Perera, Vagesha Weerasinghe, Kavindu De Costa and Chanaka Chandimal, Reeza Raffaideen, Kushan Indunil, Tarinda Ratwatte, Asith Wijesinghe, Chamod Fernando.