Tarinda Ratwatte knocked over a late penalty to help CR claw back, winning their season – Dialog Rugby League – opener 24-23 – played at Longdon Place – against Maitland Crescent rivals CH & FC.
Pulling the strings at 10, Samuel Maduwantha punished CR & FC after they started their first game of the new season in shaky fashion, following Tarinda Ratwatte kicking the season off.
Joseph Fuimaono took no time to settle too as he soon put his new team in the lead on a hot day at Longdon Place.
The big Samoan crashed over from close range as the visitors decided to run from inside their own half, early on in the game. (CR 05-03 CH)
Naveen Henakankanamge, Avantha Lee and Hirantha Perera headlined the CH back line while new recruits, Kevin Dixon and champion Janidu Dilshan started for the hosts.
CH kicked on with another three points from the boot of Samuel Maduwantha as the youngster continued to overshadow former Trinity captain Tarinda Ratwatte. (CR 05-06 CH)
With the likes of Prasanth Madushan in their front row ranks, CH punished every turnover. The prolific scoring hooker, got his first for his new team, taking no time to score from the tail of a maul. Exceptional Maduwantha continued his sublime form with the boot as he made no mistake with a seemingly tough kick on the angle. (CR 05-13 CH)
Tarinda Ratwatte initially seemed to find his feet, even though, the high turnover rate was marred the early exchange in the game as a new look CR team still seem to be finding their feet in terms of combinations.
Ratwatte adds another penalty as the Reds five-eighth was slowly grasping the game by its collar.
He soon caught the game by the scruff of its neck, as he was the beneficiary of some of his own hard work. Superior vision caught the inside CH defence napping and Joel Perera kept his head steady, completing the one-two, sending over ‘Tari’ for his first on the new campaign.
Reeza Rafaideen put his name on the scoresheet as he was the surprise finisher of the conventional under the post-conversion — scaling the antique club-house – (CR 15-13 CH)
Maduwantha’s 100% record off the tee was blemished as his next effort bounced off the upright, Naveen Henakankanumge made sure it was the visitors who had the final say in the first half as the winger found himself in the thick of the action.
The youngster winning a rare start in the CH jumper, displayed outstanding poaching skill, turning the ball over on the deck, catching his opposition off-guard, finishing off under the post.
Maduwantha received a piece-of-cake conversion to get back on track with the boot as half-time approached.
Half TIme: CR & FC 15 (2T 1C 1P) trail CH & FC 20 (2T 2C 2P)
Both teams seemed to switch to a more closed-down style of rugby as neither team wanted to end on the opposite side of the result.
This meant both teams played more of a territorial game, with the number of kicks from hand increasing rapidly.
Ratwatte and Maduwanta traded a penalty apiece, while Fuimaono and Yoshitha Rajapaksa saw yellow for two rather silly penalties. (CR 18-23 CH)
Points were hard to come by as both teams did not manage to keep a hold of possession, handing it away at the crucial moment.
Defences tightened, however, Ratwatte looked to have found a backdoor entrance with the boot.
The visiting hooker was the latest to see yellow a moment of madness gave Ratwatte the opportunity to cut the lead to just two.
He made no mistake as the game headed into a crunch final 10-minutes. (CR 21-23 CH)
The visitors fell into a shell, not wanting to play rugby, and kept the ball close in.
Hosts CR capitalized, by hanging in there and taking their opportunity. The change in style cost CH as a penalty from 45 plus meters out was nailed, stunning himself, his team and the viewers, lifting the spirited home support. (CH 24-23 CR)
With minutes left, CH piled on the pressure with wave after wave of attack, however, the home side put their heads down, grinding out a gruelling win.
Full time: CR & FC 24 (2T 1C 4P) beat CH & FC 23 (2T 2C 3P)
CR & FC: Joseph Fuimaono 1T, Tarinda Ratwatta 1T, 4P, Reeza Rafaideen 1C
CH & FC: Prasanth Madusanka 1T, Naveen Henakankanamge 1T, Samuel Maduwantha 2C, 3P