By Marlon Dale Ferreira
S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia did what they have been doing throughout the last 22 years when a another stupendous performance driven by skipper Delaka Weerarathne and his team secured the coveted Dr. R. L. Hayman trophy in the waters of the pool at the Sugatahdasa Indoor Stadium, when they trounced Royal College in the second leg in their annual Royal-Thomian Water Polo encounter on Saturday (October 11).
By virtue of outclassing the Royalists in both encounters, the goal tally stood 16 to 13 in favour of the Thomians. However during the making of this result in splashing circumstances, the game was subsequently taken down to the wire. Of the eventual total of 29 goals scored by both sides, nine goals came in the all-important last quarter which could have swung the result of this traditional encounter either way.
The Royalists who in hindsight were always lagging behind on the aggregate scored three superb goals during this period through No.10 C. Fernando. Not to be undone and within the span of two minutes the Thomians struck back scoring three consecutive goals through skipper Weerarathne, Ashane Francis and Keshan Munasinghe to seal the game in their favour in this epic last quarter.
The trophy named after Dr. R. L. Hayman who incidentally gifted the pool to the Thomians way back in the 1930’s is a much sought after event by both schools. This was starkly evident as the spectators who thronged the pool flanked both sides in their thousands.
The junior under 15 encounter also have the thrills and spills of an interesting contest as Royal came into the second leg with a narrow nine goals to eight win in the first leg. However the Thomian juniors had other ideas and in a remarkable comeback secured the Mahinda Liyanage challenge Trophy with an amazing eight goals to six win to take the aggregate to 16 goals to 15 at the long whistle.A quick glance at the history of this tournament reveals that since the commencement in 2002, the Thomians held onto the trophy for 13 years with 11 wins and two draws sandwiched in between. This amazing run of 13 years is a feat that certainly will be hard to emulate. The Royalists eventually broke this hoodoo under the captaincy Sachithra Thilakaratne in 2005 and held on to it for the next five years with consecutive wins under skippers Supun Kulathilaka (2006), Zaman Yakoob (2007), Bilal Hassan (2008) and Yohan Samarajeewa (2009).
Prof. Indra De Soysa, the Warden of S.Thomas’ College was elated after his college side’s win and went on to comment that it was hard work, dedication and the drive of the boys that achieved this result. “This annual event certainly adds colour to our annual sports calendar and is an event that we all look forward to,” concluded the Warden.
Upali Gunasekara, the Principal of Royal College went on to congratulate the winners and applaud his side too for their brilliance displayed in fighting to the end. “A few fundamental errors and the misfortune of hitting the goal frame on several occasions cost us the game. Having said that you have to congratulate the Thomians for a superb win,” he went on to say.
Thomian goal keeper Kosala Wijewardene who defended his goal stoutly throughout both legs was duly rewarded with the award for the ‘Most Valuable Player’.
Both legs of this encounter was officiated by two officials flown down FINA. Malaysian Lee Hok Hee and Singaporean Alex Lim handled the whistles.