Kandy-Navy one of the best rugby finals
Kandy SC edged out Navy SC 17-16 to clinch the final of the Clifford
Cup Knock-out Trophy at the Royal College Sports Complex in Colombo on
The match was the best ever final, despite Kandy SC fielding a
virtual second string side with the Skipper Saliya Kumara, Eric
Gunasinghe, Sean Wijesinghe, Buddika Thalagampola, Shasika Jayawardena,
Prasard Chaturanghe, Mohamed Arshan all national players sidelined due
to injury and other reasons.
The defending champions and favorites for the trophy KSC turned in a
superlative performance to edge out their opponents Navy SC in a game
where everyone were on tenterhooks until the long whistle.
Rugby enthusiasts in Kandy were disappointed over the SLRFU's
decision to hold the Clifford Cup finals in Colombo. The protest made
was on principle but the parent body was adamant that the finals be
played in Colombo for reasons best known to them.
A very senior rugby enthusiast said: " The parent body need to put
egos aside and make sure decisions are made for the good of the game. If
we do get our act together in Kandy with the right personnel appointed
to the SLRFU Council, Kandy can do better and be the best for the next
decade as well',he said.
Despite the loss, the Sailors continue to show improvement in the
game since last year. With the revival of the domestic structure, it may
not be long before they will be a force to be reckoned with.
The enthusiasm of the Navy hierarchy has put the team in the
Kandy SC opened scoring in the eleventh minute when scrum half Roshan
Weeraratne fired over a 25 metre penalty from an acute angle.
It took about fifteen minutes for the sailors to invade the Kandy
territory due to the tight defence formed by the winners. The sailors
stormed into the Kandy goal line when hooker Namal Rajapaksa made a
daring run over 35 metres only to be brought down by a Kandy defender.
If he had support to his right it would have ended in a certain try.
In the 20th minute Navy's place kicker Dev Anand's unerring kicking
found the equalizer, but winger Mohammed Jabbar put Kandy in the lead
again when he scored off a ruck and Roshan Weeraratne gave them the
Just before lemons Kandy extended their lead further when Eranga
Weerakkody's clearance kick was smothered by Fazil Marija who ran to
touch down under the posts to give Roshan Weeraratne an easy kick at
Kandy led 17/3 at half time. Navy came back fighting after the short
whistle and really got their act together.
Number 8 Bilal Hassan and scrum half Suranga Pushpakumara rattled
Kandy with their robust play. Both forwards and backs playing cohesive
rugby rattled the KSC and were on the back foot but defended well to
stop the onslaught by the Navy who were desperate to clinch a win to
create history at Rugby for the first time.
But Dev Anand put over two penalties early in the second half to
bridge the gap 9/17 , and the sailors were desperately looking to forge
ahead. They gave some anxious moments to Kandy near their goal line with
a fierce attack and finally prop forward Sathya Ranatunga scored a try
converted by Dev Anand minutes before the final whistle to make it
Nizam Jamaldeen refereed.
A rousing welcome was accorded by the rugby fans of Kandy on their
return for bringing back the Prestigious Silverware for yet another
When this reporter questioned some players they had this to say:
"Although we had resistance both from the SLRFU and other sources, we
put aside all that and trained hard with great commitment to achieve
this result as such we are very proud of this win".
The rugby coach Johan Taylor had a hard time full throughout the
season with insufficient players to fit into the respective positions
particulary prop forwards and replacements, but still found continued
his coaching assignment since 2007 as rugby champs.
Kandy players are grateful to Malik Samarawickrema who backed them
from the beginning and still continues to support the players and their
'We owe him a great deal and thank him most profusely for his
untiring efforts to support rugby in Kandy, both personally and
financially", said the Kandy players.
Besides, the Rugby Committee consisting of Rugby Chairman Lasantha
Wijesuriya Rugby Coach Johan Taylor and Team Manager Kapila Silva,
Physiotherapist Sanjeewa Perera, Team Attendant S. Kumar and the Gym
Attendants played a huge role towards the victory of Kandy SC for 2011.
The Club Committee as usual played their role supporting the players
in whatever way they could.