Sharks drown Lions in high scoring encounter

It was 70 minutes of thrilling and exhilarating Rugby where the defending champions Pera were dethroned by the Mora Sharks. The Mora team emerged victorious this time after having lost their four win streak to Pera last year. Crowds poured into the Racecourse in the dry and sunny afternoon, expecting a good game of rugby as both teams were cheered by the supporters right from the start.

    The game started with Mora Skipper Sachin kicking the ball high in the air and Sasanka Weerakoon's Lions were on the hunt right from the start. Pera lock forward Isuru Herath was running all over the park showing some fancy running skills and good highball collections. The first 10 minutes was a territorial kicking game and Pera finally scored with a drop goal by fly half Hasanka Ekanayake (00-03).

     It didn't take long for Mora to strike back with a brilliant dummy pass and side step from the Mora fly half T.Lakmal, almost like Quade Cooper for Australia. Anuja Weerakoon made a very easy conversion, taking the scores up to 07 points to 03. Pera was once again in Mora territory and it was Ekanayake, the lone scorer of the first half for the Lions, scored a spectacular try by breezing past the right wing untouched. He converted his own try, taking Pera into the lead once again (07-10).

    The scrums were equally strong but the Pera forwards were more mobile and showed some good power in the short runs. After a few phases, Mora regained possession with big forward Vidushan making good yards with his short runs and finally fullback Jayaratne scored beside the post. Both the players had a good game today. This time, Sasanka missed the easy conversion as the ball hit the post (12-10).

    After a few phases from the restart, the ball was kicked by scrum half Sandaru Himanga and it was a foot race. Young Dinuk Bentharage could not score the try as he knocked the ball forward. A few handling errors later, Mora was awarded a penalty and kicked the ball into touch. A rolling maul was formed after a good line out. Skipper Sachin who has scored a try in every single game so far, broke off the maul from the blind side and scored beside the post. The conversion was easily cleared this time by Anuja. Pera almost had a chance to reduce the gap after the restart as the lightning fast winger Ariyaratne pierced through but was brilliantly chased by Dinuk. The phases were unsuccessful and the referee blew the half time whistle with scores reading 19-10.

    The second half started with some scrappy play. Possession was shifting both ways and Mora was using their forwards to gain ground. After a line out by Mora, young speedster Dinuk dashed his way all the way till he went under the post, running 50m from the left wing while being aided by good passing from the backline as he managed to amend his mistake in the previous half. Fullback Jayaratne made no mistake with the easy conversion (26-10). Pera had many handling errors from the restart and a terrible fumble on the try line by Ekanayake, who almost had a brilliant day, was easy pickings for the big number 13 center Mabulage. Fullback Jayaratne made no errors in the conversion as the scores looked as if the damage has already been done (33-10).

      Pera managed to score shortly after the restart with their humongous forward U. De Silva. Unfortunately the game got delayed as there appeared to be an argument between a group of spectators and was resolved in no time. The Pera kicker Ramanayake cleared the easy conversion (33-17).

      Pera were on a race against time and were clearly showing their intentions that they won’t go down without a fight by using their backline who were showing some brilliant running and passing skills. Right throughout the game, the Pera centers Sasanka and Arosha Jayathilake were almost unstoppable and combined with Ariyaratne the left wing, they didn’t show any signs of giving up. It was very clear that Pera had the better backline. Their footwork and running skills were exceptionally brilliant at university level and they made it look almost like a 7s game. After many attempts, the unstoppable Pera captain Sasanka, who was trying so hard to outrun his twin brother Anuja’s team, scored but it wasn’t enough to curtail the inevitable despite the easy conversion (33-24).

      Sachin Nissankarchchi, the pivotal skipper who strategically switched between Number 8 and fullback throughout the game, managed to gain the yards and after being awarded a penalty, Mora scored the final try of the day through another well-constructed rolling maul and the Mora number 15 Jayaratne bisected the uprights from the difficult angle, maintaining his perfect kicking record (40-24). The crowds were cheering “MORA MORA MORA!!!” as they knew the cup was already won. After some handling errors by a demotivated Pera outfit, the referee blew the long whistle and the crowds poured in to celebrate this victory.

     The teams were being congratulated by the supporters and by their opponents, once again showing that being humble in both victory and defeat is what makes rugby a beautiful game to watch no matter how hard your opponent tackles you. The presentation ceremony happened shortly after the celebrations and University of Colombo also joined the ceremony as they beat University of Kelaniya 32-12 in the consolations finals. Skipper Sachin was the happy captain having led this team into the finals while Sasanka’s Lions gave their best as well and they shouldn’t feel bad as they gave a good fight, proved to be worthy opponents. The crowds cheered one more time as the teams celebrated with their championship trophy, marking the end of what seemed a very good season of rugby. Cheers!

 

 Article By: Akhila Seneviratne

Edited By: Janani Kulasekara

Sponsored By: LSEG Technology

 

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