CR & FC took on the unpredictable Air Force unit in their opening round 2 fixture, in the Dialog Rugby League at Rathmalana today and registered a 34 points to 22 win over the hosts in a closely contested affair.
Air Force who suffered their biggest loss of the season at the hands of CR in the round one game were all geared up to avenge that defeat but CR’s quality proved just too good for them in the end. Air Force kicked off the proceedings but it was CR who was in total control during the early stages of the 1st half. CR’s No.08 Omalka Gunarathne was the first to get on the scorecard with a brilliant try in the 5th minute. The former Isipathana skipper broke off a scrum and made a thundering dash to the try line and scored his team’s first try of the evening. Prince Chamara who started ahead of Rizah Mubarak at full back was not successful with the conversion. The visitors however doubled their lead with another try a few minutes later through center Bhanuka Nanayakkara who fell over for another unconverted try (AF 00 – 10 CR).
Despite conceding the early initiative the hosts to their credit came back strong to score two back to back tries of their own with fly half Gayantha Iddamalgoda and and S. Patabedige scoring in the space of 10 minutes. Both conversions were missed by Full back Nuwan Perera but Air force were level on terms and right back in the game (AF 10 – 10 CR).
CR’s game plan for the day was simple yet effective. They opted to go for a few hits before the spreading the ball wide using the full width of the pitch to stretch the Air Force defence. The visitors looked threatening whenever they ran with the ball but some sloppy passes did not help their cause as they kept probing for a scoring opportunity. However, they managed to go ahead into the break thanks to Tharinde Rattwatte who fell over for a try near the right corner flag just before half time. Prince Chamara made a fantastic conversion to hand CR a 7 point lead at half time.
Half Time: Air Force SC 10 – CR & FC 17
Just as in the 1st half, CR got off to a flying start scoring a try within 45 seconds of the restart. Air Force failed to collect the kick off cleanly and CR won possession. Their forwards rumbled ahead and brought play into the opposition 22 before the ball was sent out wide for winger Kavindu Perera to dive over beside the corner flag. Prince Chamara once again made a beautiful conversion to add the extras. (AF 10 – 24 CR).
CR continued their dominance in the game and dished out some fierce tackles to keep the airman at bay. However they handed the hosts a lifeline back into the game when Supun Pieris was shown yellow for an infringement at the break down. Trying to take advantage of the situation the hosts opted to kick the ball into touch and opt for a rolling maul. After a few hits and shoves by the Air Force forwards the ball was sent out wide and winger Ishara Madushan scored a well worked team try. Charith Senevirathne’s conversion was not successful but Air Force had a way back into the game. (AF 15 – 24 CR).
Backed by the home support Air Force looked to build on some momentum but just as things seemed to settle down for them, CR scored yet again and it was once again through winger Kavindu Perera. Omalka Gunarathne ripped the ball off an Air Force player and sensible thinking by the No.08 saw him draw the onrushing defence before releasing Perera who was lurking on his wing to score his 2nd try of the game. The conversion was missed but CR was in a healthy lead. (AF 15 – 29 CR).
The “red shirts’ sealed the game in the 64th minute when burly prop Kokila Sammaddaperuma powered his way from close range. Prince Chamara who did not have the best of days with the boot failed with the conversion yet again even though his team was in firm control.(AF 15 – 34 CR)
All the early hard work by the visitors seemed to have taken its toll on them as they looked tired and were slow to react during the last quarter of the game. Air Force did not make things easy as they too kept piling on the pressure with some threatening moves of their own but CR managed to hold on. Air Force did manage to score a consolation try right at the end through their 2nd rower Thilina Bandara who caught the CR defence napping with a quick tap taken just outside his 22′ and touch down beside the posts. The conversion by Nuwan Perera was just a formality as Referee Aruna Rankothge brought the game to a close.
Full Time: Air Force 22 (3T, 1C) – CR & FC 34 (6T, 2C)