By Harsha Amarasinghe
Kandy Sports Club claimed a thrilling 22 points (three tries, two conversions, one penalty) to 20 (three tries, one conversion, one penalty) victory over Navy Sports Club in their Dialog Inter-Club League rugby match at Welisara today (23), sending off their head coach Sean Wijesinghe out on a high note.
Wijesinghe on Saturday announced the news, that he was leaving the club he played for and now coaches, on social media with his assistant Fazil Marija now looking set to take over rugby giants of Sri Lanka.
The defending champions however, had to do it the hard way as only an injury-time penalty from full-back Thilina Wijesinghe helped them scrap to win by just two points.
The Sailors appeared to have put the game to the bed when second half substitute Dinesh Lakmal crossed the white line in the 79th minute of the match to claim a 20-19 lead, but the home fans were left red-faced at full-time.
Richard Dharmapala’s team was gifted a try in the 45th minute which proved to be the game-changing moment when Navy flanker Adeesha Weeratunga failed to get hold of the ball in a line-out with the ball kindly falling into the safe hands of Kandy flanker Shehan Pathirana whose long legs just required a couple of steps to dive over before Wijesinghe missed a conversion which could have cost them the game.
Despite their first half brilliance, the reigning champions were stunned at the very beginning of the second half as Navy fly-half Mohamed Abzal pounced on a careless pass from the Navy backline to intercept the ball and dive over for a try which would then be converted by wing three quarter Chathura Seneviratne as captain Thilina Weerasinghe continues to struggle with his kicking having dropped eight points on the pitch in the first half.
Navy who had taken a 3-0 lead in the 10th minute failed to maintain their early dominance as visitors struck back twice within the next 15 minutes.
First it was a cracking individual try from wing three quarter Vishwamithra Jayasinghe which handed them the lead in the 13th minute after which Pathirana was set up magnificently by a smart pass from scrum-half Roshan Weeraratne in the 27th minute.
Navy had a quick revival just four minutes later when prop forward Charith Silva crashed over to leave the scores 14-8 at breather.
This was easily Kandy’s biggest scare as despite the win they will have to step up their games. Especially, the midfield looks to be in disarray in the absence of top dog Danushka Ranjan.