Thulaib Hassen led Royal won the bradby Shield five in a row
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (fourth from left) cheering during the Bradby encounter in Colombo on Saturday
By Shamseer Jaleel
Oh what a game it was. All the crowd who witnessed the fantastic rugby displayed by Trinity College was unforgettable. In the end Trinity though lost out on the Bradby Shield produced cohesive rugby to ground Royal College by 24 points (four tries, two conversions) to 13 points (two tries, one penalty) in front of a half-packed Royal Sports Complex.
At the short breather Trinity led 12/3.
Royal College retained the coveted Shield for a record fifth consecutive year by way of an aggregate of 47/41. The all-time record is held by Trinity who won in tandem from 1952 to 1956 which is at threat.
Trinity was totally a different outfit last weekend in Colombo. They looked a yard faster and their forwards were mobile and rock solid. Their three-quarter line was lightning fast and looked threatening with their ghosting moves.
Led by Reshan Bandaranayake, who was omnipresent,he took some vital decisions which were on the spot for the Kandy school. He manned his troops well with ample support coming in from dangerous Harsha Samarasinghe and Janidu Ratnayake. Lenox Calyanaratne, Zayd Faizal, Koojana Kulatunge and YaswanthMecan coming in the later half were great success for the Kandy school. Trinity coaching staff led by Inthi Marikar and Rodney So’oyalu should be commended for a major comeback.
Royal though drew first blood early in the game were complaisant on their approach. They hardly got in to the Trinity half in the initial half instead were defending their own line for more than 30 minutes. Their skipper Thulaib Hassen was the lonely fighter who lacked support from his team other than KalinduNandila and Rajindu Jayasundera supporting in patches. Thulaib and company who did the damage in Kandy were too huge to be recovered for the Up Country lads.
Trinity won the battle but lost out on the war in the end. They almost did what Murad Ramzeen’s side did a few years back when they lost the first leg in Kandy by one point but humbled Royal in the second by scoring 40 plus points and secured the Bradby.
Reshan’s side just lost out in the end by an aggregate of six points but the performance they put at Royal Complex will live for many long years in the hearts of the spectators plus spoken about. Coming back on a 17-point deficit is no easy task. Dushantha Lewke who took over from Sanath Martis in coaching should be commended for his hard work as the Head Coach of the Reid Avenue outfit.
A late tackle early in the third minute of the game by Trinity flanker, Dhiren Ratwatte made on KalinduNandila saw Dulan Gunawardena spot on with the penalty kick to take an early 3/0. But that was it for Royal in the first half. They could not score any more points but ended in defending their lives and try line.
Trinity was reduced to 14 players when their winger Amith Kulathunga was given a ‘Yellow Card’ for a late tackle. But Royal too followed their opponent’s footsteps when they were handed with a card on Nandila 10 minutes later in the game.
Trinity scored their first try through their lanky flanker, Dhiren Ratwatte. MiniduJaysundera was on target. Later Minidu scored his first try but the conversion was not accurate. Lions took the short breather at 12/3 lead after dominating proceeding and territory for more than 90% of the time.
Trinity number 8 Lenox Calyanaratne crashed over the try line off a maul for an unconverted try to extend the lead 17/3. But Royal hot back sooner than later through their hooker Rajindu Jayasuriya who went over for two superb tries. But both the kicks were not converted.
Second Trinity yellow on Koojana Kulatunge was a controversial call by referee where a Royal player who charged with leg went scot-free. Reshan who had a game of his life initiated the next move sending their nippy scrum half, KoojanaKuatunge over the line.
Miranga Subasinghe who came in late in the second half was in cracking form putting over the conversion kick. Trinity had a few more chances but Royal defence stood firm to keep them away from scoring a another try which could have given the trophy back to Trinity had the conversion too be made.
Referee Ishanka Abeykoon
Trinity had a field day winning both the Under-16 and Under-18 encounter easily. In the first leg too Trinity won both the segments. Trinity Under-16 was coached by Aruna Rankothge with Damith Dissanayake supporting while Saliya Kumara headed the Under-18 coaching unit with Asitha Ratnayake assisting him.
– Pix by Chamila Karunarathne