Former Kandy player Radhika Hettiarachchi, turning out for the Air Force, almost scripted a piece of history as he scored 21 of the 23 points in his side’s loss to the champions last evening at Bogambara. Kandy eventually won by 27 points (3 goals, 2 penalties) to 23 (1 goal, 2 tries, 2 penalties).
If the first half was dominated by Kandy (they led 20-3 at the break), the second was almost entirely monopolized by the Airmen. In fact, had the game been played for five more minutes, the losers may have emerged victorious – so fierce was the late assault by them.
Saliya Kumara’s two early penalties were converted by a Hettiarachchi penalty (6-3). Ale dummy and a touch down by Vithanage made it 13-3 with Kumara’s conversion schoolboy Anuruddha Wilwara then made his presence felt with a try, to which Kumara added the points (20-3).
In the second half Sanjeeva Jayasinghe seemed to make it safe for Kandy by scoring after a 25 yard run. Kumara obliged and Kandy led 27-3.
Then came the Hettiarachchi hat-trick. One of the tries was converted by Kingswood skipper Rajitha Sansoni. Hettiarachchi put over his second penalty but at the end the leeway of points just could not be made up.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, fighting broke out between the players. Once order had been restored on the field, fighting continued in the stands.Salute the Air Force for a gusty display; it was a case of so near and yet so far.