Unbeaten Royal College retained the Inter-Schools Under-19 ‘A’ Division League rugby title when they defeated St. Peter’s College 32-13 in the deciding encounter worked off at the Royal Sports Complex on Saturday (9).
The winners collected their points from two goals, three tries and one penalty after having led 12-3 at half time and also went on to retain the B. C. Angie Trophy.
The Peterites despite making a promising start to their campaign lost their way during the second half and managed to score only a goal and two penalties.
In fact, St. Peter’s drew first blood through a 40 metre penalty from full back ShehanLiyanapathirana in the sixth minute of play.
However, Royal settled down beautifully and took the lead with two magnificent tries from hooker IfhamFareed and MubeenFaleel with full back DulanGunawardena converting one try.
St. Peter’s came back into the game with a superb try shortly after the break with prop forward Abdullah Faiz going over under the post to give Liyanapathirana an easy conversion.
Royal hit back almost immediately as Fareed scored his second try of the match to extend the lead following a line-out with Gunawardena failing to add the extra points.
The Peterites kept their chances alive with Liyanapathirana firing across another vital penalty from 35 metres out to reduce the deficit to 13-17 at that stage.
However, Royal virtually sealed the contest in their favour while scoring back-to-back tries through Skipper SabithFeroze and winger Pasindu Fernando.
Gunawardena converted the first try and few minutes later he put over a penalty to give Royal and convincing victory in the end.
PREVIEW: Royal out to secure title
By Harsha Amarasinghe
Royal College need a draw. St. Joseph’s College need a favour. St. Peter's College need a miracle. The Inter-School League Rugby Tournament has reached its final week with three teams still running for the league glory, but the reigning champions Royal College could secure what could be their third title in four years, even before their closet rival Josephians take the field on Sunday, with a victory or even a draw against St. Peter's College at Royal Complex on Saturday.
The Reid Avenue boys who have been unbeaten all season, could still finish second if they lose this game to Peterites without earning any bonus point which would make Joes favourites to win the title as they are scheduled to play a very ordinary Isipathana side on Sunday.
For St. Peter's College to win the league, they require a mircale. Sanath Martis' side must beat Royal with a big margin and ensure Royalists finish the game gaining zero points out of the fixture which looks very unlikely, and then they need Isipathana to beat Joes which too looks like an impossible task at the minute.
The only school to have caused problems for Royalists, was Wesley College, and the league leaders suffered the most after the final whistle of their game, but on a serious note, trailing 15-17 Royal would have had their hearts in their mouth. Even after winning 18-17, it was felt that the form was fading away, but like all champion teams do, Royal bounced back in style, and one has to believe that the 'Musthapha week' gave them enough time to regroup.
Dushantha Lewke has made one change to their first XV as Induwara Bimsara has replaced Banwaja Samaranayake in the pack. Bimsara has joined Himantha Hirushan and Ifham Fareed in the front row with Sasitha Siyath dropping to the second row.
Royal have stuck to their half-back combination of Mubeen Faleel and Kalindu Nandila while Pasindu Fernando is also set to retain his position ahead of Yasas Rashmika.
Petes on the other hand expected to field a team that will go all out against Royalists. The injuries to their skipper Javeed Zarook and probably their best player Raveen Fernando early in the season didn't help their cause.
This could also be an emotional evening for Sanath Martis who is returning to the Royal Complex in a bid to topple the team that he built.
Royal: Induwara Bimsara, Ifham Fareed, Himantha Hirushan, Fadhil Adahan, Sasitha Siyath, Radesh Wijeratne, Maleesha Madumewan, Risith Kavyanjana, Mubeen Faleel and Kalindu Nandila, Sabith Feroze (C), Thulaib Hassen, Janidu Dilshan, Pasindu Fernando, Dulan Gunawaradena
St. Peter’s: Abdullah Faiz, Julian Charles, Janidu Yasas, Nishran Nillar, Lankesh Perera, Shenal Fernando , Lakshan Fernando, Bilal Hilmy, Jason Karunaratna and Kenneth Wimaladasa, Shenol Silva, Sunara Fernando, Rukshan Madushanka, Dayan Fernando, Shehan Liyanapathirana