CR & FC’s Omalka Gunarathne starred as his forwards gave a rude shock to the tournament favourites CH & FC winning the encounter 46-29 to make it to the semifinals.
The Red Shirts; CR came out with a different form of playing from the kickoff whistle itself with Joel Perera drawing first blood off a rolling maul. Ratwatte’s conversion gave CR an extended lead (7-0).
Not giving up, CH scored in the next restart, credit to a mishap from CR’s forwards allowing Anuradha Herath to touch down on the far corner for the equalizer.
It was the CR skipper who brought momentum back in favour of his team this time creating an opportunity for Reeza Raffaideen to score on the corner. (12-7)
It was then that the CR forwards came in with a surprise package for the Gymkhana club. Breaking through the line of defence was Gayan Dilshan who cleared the lines and with a few exchanges from Omalka Gunarathane and Avishka Heenpalla, Kavindu Perera was off to score his first.
The forwards who soon adapted to play a fast moving game, got the fourth try scored, this time by Gayan Dilshan. Both of them went unconverted. (22-7)
When hope was deteriorating, it was Maduwantha’s 3 points off a penalty that re-instated CH will-power and adding to that it was Anuradha Herath who crossed over on the brink of half time to cut the deficit to 7 points.
Half Time: CR & FC 22 lead CH & FC 15
Getting inspiration from Gayan Dilshan, it was prop-forward Gayan Jayamanne who stepped his way forward and later offloaded the ball to Joel Perera to score under the post in the very first minutes of play in the second half. Ratwatte who missed out on the earlier kicks made no mistake this occassion in adding the extras. (29-15)
Ratwatte then compensated for the missed kicks with a long-range 43m penalty kick that took his team closer to victory with CH & FC needing three scores to anchor a turnaround.
Chandimal’s quick thinking in taking the 5m penalty and making a dash to the try line helped and it looked like this try was the final nail in the coffin as CR & FC were en-route to a semifinal. (39-15)
Adding to the momentum, a loose pass to Samuel Maduwantha saw Reeza Raffaideen using the knock-on advantage to his will allowed Chanaka Chandimal to score his second.
Not giving up, Sudarshana Muthuthanthri’s individual brilliance saw them scoring two converted tries in the last ten minutes but it was not enough to prevent the inevitable.
It was 80 minutes that saw CR & FC playing to their full potential utilizing the talent in store. Above all, it was a wonderful display of good running rugby by the CR & FC forwards who initially won the tight contest.
CR & FC will travel to Pallekelle to face Kandy on Wednesday to see their chances of making it to a final for the first time in the last five years.
Full Time Score: CR & FC 46 (7T 4C 1P) to CH & FC 29 (4T 3C 1P)