Saturday’s blockbuster knockout rugby final between CR&FC and Kandy SC takes our memories back to the Clifford Cup final in 1996 where these two clashed for the title.
The match was played on September 8 at the Nittawela grounds. So, in this game Kandy SC after a superb performance became the champions beating CR and FC by 7 points (a goal) to 6 (2 penalties).
In this final Kandy SC had to struggle all the way to earn this win. It was indeed a pulsating affair.
It was the first defeat of the league champions CR and FC that season. Kandy SC trailed 0-3, at the breather, but came up with a superb team work in the second half. CR and FC took the field as favourites.
It was evident there were many connoisseurs of the game in the grounds. For, they waited till the end of play to applaud both teams. Some were heard saying it was a pity that there had to be a looser.
Kandy SC with their tough defence spoiled many opportunities CR and FC had. This prompted CR’s backs to kick desperate up-and-unders.
CR and FC’s main runner Junior Nixon was pinned whenever he was trying to move. CR and FC got ahead to a 3-nil lead in the 39th minute with a Nalaka Weerakkody penalty.
Both sides went on a terrific offensive in the second half. However, for a major part of that session, the winners were in the CR and FC territory. Once again mid way in the second half Weerakkody fired a penalty for CR and FC to give them a 6-0 lead.
Kandy S.C. gradually earned vital possession and the forwards took play into CR and FC’s 22. The third row were inches away from the goal line. A few penalties were awarded to the Kandy SC and they were trying their best with their forwards. Suddenly, Priyantha Ekanayake changed the pattern of play and through a well executed ploy the ball went down the line. The ball changed hands among players like Sudath Sampath, Nalin Dissanayake, Lasantha Wijasuirya, Lal Wijesiri before skipper Imthi Marikar finished off the move to give Kandy SC a thrilling win.
The match was officiated by S.W. Chang.