By Chris Dhambarage
‘Motivation!’ was the key word for Royal College’s success in the Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament.
The team from Reid Avenue exhibited a great amount of determination and hard work on their way towards winning the coveted ‘A’ Division league title in a spectacular manner.
The campaign which they commenced on their home grounds at Reid Avenue three months ago, continued successfully at Bambalapitiya, Longden Place, Havelock Park,Nittawela, Welisara, Mount Lavinia, Maradana and eventually ended at Pallakele with a historic and memorable triumph.
Their track record speaks volume where they emerged victorious on nine occasions while losing just a solitary game to their arch rivals Isipathana College 17-22 at the Royal Sports Complex.
This was certainly the only setback for this otherwise champion outfit in the league tournament which anyway conquered the Mount Everest of Schools Rugby in their own style.
No doubt, they had their own ups and downs, disappointments and several moments of anguishon the field but overall they were able to survive the most difficult periods and emerge victorious when it really mattered.
Their style of play may have not been really eye catching, entertaining or pleasing to the rugby fanatic but they were simply ruthless on the field and they were able to destroy the opposition with a clinical performance.
This was exactly what they performed in the deciding game against the traditional rivals Trinity College where they folded up twice from an early setback to record a 22-17 victory in the Bradby Shield first-leg encounter.
The most significant feature in Royal’s performance was that they showed character throughout the season and they were always consistent in executing their game plan.
Royal 28, St. Joseph’s 22
In fact, Royal were up against it from game one as they were put under severe pressure by a rejuvenated St. Joseph’s College outfit which had threatened to create a major upset.
But Royal, thanks to the kicking abilities of Mohammed Shaqir who put over two vital penalties and converted two tries, were able to whether the Josephian storm and emerge victorious 28-22 in the end.
Royal 17, St. Peter’s 10
In their second game, Royal rallied around through two beautiful tries from Janidu Dilshan to overpower St. Peter’s College 17-10 at Bambalapitiya and to retain the B. C. Anghie Trophy for the fourth successive year.
Royal 18, Dharmaraja 15
Royal’s first outing away from Colombo turned out to be a dramatic contest as they survived many anxious moments before overcoming Dharmaraja College 18-15 at the Nittawela Stadium in Kandy.
In fact, Royal owe a great deal to their Skipper OvinAskey who played a vital role in their success while executing a match winning drop goal from under the post few seconds before the final whistle.
Royal 47, D. S. Senanayake 7
After three back-to-back tough games, Royal finally enjoyed a convincing victory for the first time in the season as they demolished an inexperienced D. S. Senanayake College outfit 47-7 in a one sided game played at Welisara.
Royal 17, Isipathana 22
Royal suffered their first and the only defeat in the league tournament as they surrendered the Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy to Isipathana while going down 17-22 on their home grounds.
Royal 48, St. Anthony’s 35
Royal’s ability to play under pressure was once again justified in their performance in the match against St. Anthony’s College in the final first-round league game played at the Royal Sports Complex.
The home side after a shaky first half recovered magnificently and fired all cylinders during the latter sages to pull off a hard fought 48-35 victory in the end.
Royal 31, S. Thomas’ 14
Royal’s campaign in the Cup Segment began in style as they outplayed the traditional rivals S. Thomas’ College 31-14 at Mount Lavinia to regain the Michael Gunaratne Trophy.
This was another clinical performance from the Royal team as they came from behind while trailing 12-14 at half time to turn the game in their favour with a superb second half rally.
Royal 65, Zahira 14
Royal enjoyed probably their best game in the league tournament as they went on the rampage to beat a hapless Zahira College outfit by a huge margin of 65-14 at Maradana.
Royal 35, Wesley 19
Royal’s clash against the giant killers Wesley College wasanother stern test for the side considering the fact that their opponents had already toppled a couple of fancied teams during the first-round.
But Royal lived upto expectations as a true champion side as they recovered from an early setback to register a convincing 35-19 victory in the end.
Royal 22, Trinity 17
Royal seem to have preserved the best for the last as they delivered the final blow in style to annex the league title while edging-out the traditional rivals Trinity 22-17 in an exciting encounter played at Pallekele.
Royal also had their share of individual brilliance on the field with the dynamic Hamza Reeza becoming the most successful try scorer in the league tournament with a rich haul of 14 tries.
The most significant feature in his performance is that every try has been a match winning effort for his team and the two tries he scored against Trinity was a classic example.
In addition, Janidu Dilshan (7) and Sabith Feroze (6) were also consistent try scorers for the team while Thulaib Hassen and Ashen Fernando scored three tries each.
The place kicking of Mohammed Shaqir was also a key factor for Royal as he made his presence felt with a total of nine penalties and 20 conversions.