Kandy managed to secure their spot to the final of the Dialog Clifford Cup after beating CR & FC 38 points to 26 up at Pallekele earlier today.
Nigel Ratwatte kick started the game into the hands of Omalka Gunarathna, who fumbled the ball into touch allowing the Kandyans to gain an early advantage. Capitalising on the early opportunity, it was Dhanushka Ranjan who drew first blood for Kandy SC, 6 minutes into the game, after crashing his way over the line. Nigel failed to add the extras. (KSC 05-00 CR)
CR lost all their lineouts and Kandy pounced on every opportunity, but failed to find the perfect finish as unforced errors seemed inevitable.
However, in the 21st minute, Rajan changed the momentum of the game when he collected an inside ball from Fazil Marija and touched down beside the posts to score his second try. Nigel added the extras. CR struck immediately from the restart, attacking from a scrum inside their own ’22 Chanaka Chandimal went over the line in the far corner. Tarinda added the extra two narrowing Kandy’s lead to seven points. (KSC 12-07CR)
It was Kandy who dominated the rest of the first half after scoring tries in quick succession. Srinath Sooriyabandara touched down in the left flank after sneaking his way through the defence line in the 27th minute followed by the skipper Gayan Weerarathna, who scored Kandy’s fourth try five minutes later. Although Nigel failed to add the extras on both occasions, Kandy went onto half time with a healthy lead. (HT : KSC led 22-07 CR)
Three minutes into the second-half, Ranjan scored his hat-trick and there on till the 54th minute it was all about Kandy as Nigel managed to slot two three-pointers into the Kandy total. The crowd went into silence when Hirantha Manamendra, the CR hooker faced a tragic injury and was taken off to the hospital. As the game restarted, Omalka Gunarathna scored a fabulous try for CR after bulldozing his way over the line. Tarinda added the extras to give CR a fighting chance. (KSC 35- 14 CR)
As the replacements kept coming in, the game changed gears. Both teams displayed a sense of urgency which opened up the game. CR lost almost all their lineouts while Kandy kept attacking.
As the dying minutes of the game approached, Shemal Weerasekara and Reeza Raffaideen managed to score for CR in the 62nd and 79th minutes. Thilina Wijesinghe converted a penalty to points in the 66th minute for Kandy. Shemal scored his try after sprinting past three defenders to touch down under the post and Raffaideen scored his after diving over the line in the far corner. As Ratwatte’s kick drifted away from the uprights reference Sam Jones blew the final whistle.
Full Time : Kandy SC 36 (5T, 1C,3P) – 28 (4T,4C) CR&FC