After a closely fought battle for supremacy Kandy Sports Club displayed a dazzling performance of rugby to finish runners-up, after they went down fighting to a formidable Doha RFC by 29 points to 17 in the final in Dubai.
Kandy SC were trailing 14-12 at half time.
Doha RFC was composed of foreign players from New Zealand, Australia and Europe whereas Kandy had only two foreigners’ in Tongan Koto Pongi and Kenyan Oscar Oyuma.
Kandy was cheered on by the large Sri Lankan expatriate community in Dubai. Despite missing the services of seven national players, gave off a sizzling display with an exciting brand of rugby coming out head to head with the bigger made Doha team.
Kandy SC scored their tries through winger Dansha Dayan (2) and full back Thilina Wijesinghe (1), while Thilina Wijesinghe added the extra points to one try.
In this game Kandy fly half Arshad Jamaldeen kicked away possession many times with his aimless kicking and could not produce the good performance he dished out in their opening game against Olymp.
Jamaldeen was also completely off target with several penalty kicks just before half time and a drop kick attempt, which would have given Kandy the morale boosting lead at half time.
The gallant Kandy side had the chance to get back into the lead after winger Vishvamithra Jayasinghe gave a superb pass to full back Thilina Wijesinghe who spilled the ball with the try line staring at him.
“We actually came here to win this tournament and we brought a young but talented side due to seven of our players being on national duty for the Asian Sevens series, including our original 2015/16 season appointed captain and play maker Fazil Marija,” said skipper cum head coach Sean Wijesinghe to The Nation.
“This tournament gave our young players the opportunity to come up against top quality opposition, where they never had a chance before and it’s an honour to captain such a talented bunch of young guys.”
“We played with only two foreigners’ throughout this tournament but unfortunately in the finals, with just 20 minutes to go our Tongan play maker Koto Pongi was badly injured with concussion and could not take part in the match further, and this was one reason we could not come out as winners. Also we have yet to start our 15-a-side practices, since the 2015/16 domestic season is two months away hence we are not at our very best yet.”
“This tournament gave us the necessary requirement to do our team selections ahead of the upcoming rugby season,” said Wijesinghe, who was last year’s captain of Kandy SC where they won the double (inter-club league and the Clifford Cup knockout) which eluded them for a couple of years. He has been officially appointed as the head coach of Kandy SC for the upcoming rugby season.
“With this final against Doha RFC, I have retired from rugby as a player and this is my first season as the head coach of the club, and I’m proud of the boys as well as for the entire Sri Lanka for at least bringing honour to the country by getting the runners-up trophy. But I am sure that next time we will give our very best to bring back the winners’ cup that eluded us this time. It’s a proud occasion to lead Kandy SC, as for me it’s really one school, one club and one nation,” concluded Wijesinghe who has the proud record of playing rugby for Kandy SC for the past one and a half decades.