CR & FC managed to get the better of Air Force36-33 in the Clifford Cup Knockout quarter final, worked out at the Race Course stadium today (17th February)
Airmen who finished off the league on a high beating Army, fielded a new look side for this encounter due to the number of injuries that were suffered against the soldiers. Regulars in the likes of Charith Senevirathne , Saraka Weralla, Ashok Vijey kumar and Rumesh Ramdas were not available for the crucial game due to injury. Despite the setbacks the airmen were led by their skipper Gayantha Iddamalgoda with valor and he didn’t waste any time touching down right under the post just two minutes into the game to give the airmen the lead. Skipper added the extras and the scores read 07-00 in favor of Air Force.
With the CR&FC deciding to relieve coach Ben Macdougl of his duties coach Mushtaq who had assumed the responsibility as the interim coach at CR had decided to bring Nalin Kumara to the first-five eights position moving Ashan de Costa to outside center. Kumara who was the hero for CR last weekend against Police SC with a last minute penalty began where he left off, when he bisected the post to get CR on the board. Air Force 07-03 CR
CR looked like a totally different outfit to what they were during the league with good ball distribution to their promising backs. They managed to keep questioning the Air Force defence forcing them to stretch through the width of the field. CR&FC #8 Omalka Gunaratne was fabulous barging through the middle sucking in defenders and the CR backs were swift with their passing to send in speedster Kavindu Perera to cross the white line twice in quick succession. Kumara was on point with the conversions adding the extras. Air Force 07- 17 CR
With the red shirts increasing the lead Air Force stepped up their charge as they tried to create opportunity with running rugby. They were rewarded when referee Priyantha Gunarathne spotted CR offside and the Airmen decided to kick to touch and were elated when skipper Iddamalgoda gained close to 30 meters and put them 5meters away from the try line. Supun Madhushanka touched down for the airmen from the resulting lineout maul at the stroke of halftime to close in on the CR lead, Nuwan Perera missed the difficult conversion.
Half Time – Air force 12 – 17 CR
The Red shirts were quick off their mark after the lemons and were the first to get on the score board through a Sashan Mohammed try. Air Force were guilty of losing possession in their own 22m due to a handling error which saw the CR pounce on the opportunity to put Mohammed on the score sheet. Kumara missed the conversion. Air Force 12- 22 CR
The airmen sensing that the game is running away from them played their hearts out with the forwards and backs combining to create wave after wave of attack. The red shirts were put under severe pressure. A fresh faced Anjana Vinod touched down for Air Force after quick hands by the airmen following Anuradha Herath getting sin binned for a high tackle. Iddamalgoda was again on point with the conversion. Air Force 19 – 22 CR
The Airmen came barging into the game with a brace of tries through their skipper Iddamalgoda .With the forwards working their way near the try line Iddamalgoda spotted the opportunity and was quick to pick the ball from the ruck and score on the blind, For his second try, most definitely the best try of the match in attack the Air Force skipper spotted that there was unguarded empty space at the back of the CR line and put in a chip and chased it with full commitment to score under the post. Captain Marvelous was on point with the conversion putting the Airmen in a solid lead. Air Force 33 – 22 CR
Flanker Chaminda Udayakumara of Air Force was sent to the naughty chair for a swinging arm. This gave CR a numerical advantage which they put to good use opting for a scrum in mid field. CR’s dashing #8 Gunaratne broke from the back of the scrum and off loaded to Panduka Angamana who touched down under the post. Nalin Kumara added the extras. Air Force 33 – 29 CR
With the time ticking away CR had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed but a brilliant counter attack run by Kavindu de Costa and an off load to Sashan Mohammed was stopped in its tracks by refree Gunarathene as he sotted Kavindu Perera obstructing an Air Force defender. CR however was determined to spoil Gayantha Iddamalgoda’s party as they managed to get Nalin Kumara to touch down on the far corner to get in the lead in the dying minutes of the game. Kavindu de Costa added the extras. Air Force 33- 36 CR
Full time Air Force 33 (5 tries , 4 conversions ) CR & FC 36 (5 Tries, 4 converions, 1 penalty )