Royal’s powerhouse forward pack mauled their way through the hapless Trinity outfit to register a decisive 22-17 score amidst the heavy downpour of rain at the Royal College Sports Complex in the first leg of the 72nd Bradby Shield encounter.
Royal compiled their points off three tries, two conversions and a penalty while Trinity were only able to accumulate two converted tries and a penalty. The hosts snatched a much needed win to take 2nd place in division 1A of the schools rugby league whilst giving them a fice point lead going into the secind leg in Pallekelle.
Trinity came in to the game minus their skipper Rahul Karunathilake with the memories of the 49-0 loss still fresh on their minds. Trinityrecovered acting skipper Thushila Perera’s kick off and looked to run the ball from 40 meters out, however the Royal center Janidu Dilshan intercepted a poor pass off Anjana Bandara and rewrote history to touch down for the fastest try in the 72-year long history of the Bradby. Ovin Askey added the extra points and Royal were off to a dream start (7-0).
Courtesy: The Papare
It took Trinity fifteen minutes to approach their attacking 22 meter and when they succeeded in doing so, they scored through their forwards as Anjana Bandara touched down to open the scoring for the visitors. Sanushka Abeywickrema’s kick was on point despite the downpour of rain and Trinity drew level (7-7).
Royal’s Ovin Askey regained the lead with 22-meter penalty (10-7). Many a chance went begging for the Trinitians who controlled the middle stages of the first half as the Lions with majority of the possession couldn’t capitalize on the pressure due to poor ball handling.
The Royalists on the other hand were looking for the important lineout that could put them within in mauling distance. Their breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Royal shoved the Trinity forwards back from a 5-meter line out for the second try as Hooker Azmir Fajudeen touched down from the rear. Askey was on point with a 44-meter conversion. (17-7)
Half time RC 17-7 TCK
Coach Eric Miller’s decision to substitute acting skipper Thushila Perera for Lashane Wijesuriya turned things around for the Lions andseemed to exploit every corner of the Royal defense. Wijesuriya’s presence was felt from the start as he kicked a difficult 25-meter penalty in the rain to bring the score to 17-10.
Royal had the fortitude to hold on to their defensive lines in the stormy conditions but when Trinity’s Shalindra Alahakoon came off the back of a 5-meter scrum and passed it on to Wijesuriya who offloaded to Diluksha Dange to score, Trinity were once again closing in onthe Royal score.
For the first time in Sri Lanka in a school encounter, referee Dinka Pieris went to the Television match official on the Dliuksha Dange try and TMO Vimal Perera declared that Wijesuriya’s offload was backwards and referee Pieris awarded the try.
Lashane Wijesuriya took it upon himself to bring Trinity back on even footing with a difficult conversion and with 20 minutes left on the clock, the game still was undecided. (17-17)
It was evident that the Royal maul was no match for the Trinity forwards and throughout the game, Trinity struggled desperately to hold back the Royal stampede. With the Royal Complex drenched in mud, the Royal couldn’t have asked for better conditions to prove theirdominance up front. For the next twenty minutes Royal mauled their way up from 22 meter mark and when they were awarded a 5 meter penalty, Ovin Askey didn’t hesitate to go for touch.
As Royal mauled on one final occasion in the 77th minute in the mud, the pressure proved too much for the tired Trinity forwards as Azmir Fajudeen touched down for a second time to mark their dominance in the game. Despite the missed conversion, Trinity didn’t have the fire power to stage a possible comeback in the remaining three minutes (22-17).
The Royal forwards made sure the ball stayed within their grasp for the remainder of the game and in doing so as the Tuskers registered a 22-17 win at the Royal Complex in the 1st leg of the Bradby as the field was invaded by euphoric fans who didn’t seem to mind the mud. Royal College will now travel to Pallekelle with a five-point lead as they attempt to defend the shield.
The game that was also a league encounter saw Royal climbing to the second spot in the segment 1A while Trinity will be pushed down to third as the first round of the school games comes to a close this weekend.
ThePapare.com’s player of the match: Azmir Fajudeen of Royal College
Royal College 22 (3T 2C 1P) Tries by – Azmir Fajudeen (2), Janidu Dilshan / Conversions (2) and Penalty by Ovin Askey
Trinity College 17 (2T 2C 1P) Tries by – Anjana Bandara, Diluksha Dange / Conversions (2) by Sanushka Abeywickrema / Penalty by Lashane Wijesuriya