Royal College launched their defence for the ‘A’ Division League title in a spectacular manner as they demolished Kingswood College 29-3 in their Inter-Schools Under-19 Rugby Tournament opening fixture worked off at the Royal Sports Complex in Colombo on Saturday (3).
The reigning champions made their intentions quite clear from the kick-off and went on to stamp their authority while collecting their points from two goals and three tries after having led 7-3 at half time.
The Kingswoodians who were making their appearance in the top division after a lapse of few years never looked like challenging the home side as they managed to put over just a solitary penalty.
Even then Kingswood had the satisfaction of restricting the defending champions to a solitary goal in the first half after scrum half Dananjaya Nuwan had put his side in front with a penalty in the third minute of play.
However, Royal came back into recognition in the 18th minute with second row forward Sasitha Siyath going over for a typical forwards try after they had won possession from a five metre scrum.
Full back Dulan Gunawardena made no mistake with the conversion and Royal took the lead for the first time 7-3 at that stage.
Royal changed their strategy in the second half and decided to work more with their back division players and that ploy turned out to be fruitful as they scored four magnificent tries during this period.
First it was dashing centre three quarter Janidu Dilshan who sliced through the Kingswood defence shortly after the interval to touch down almost under the post with Gunawardena adding the extra points.
Flanker Risith Kavanjana then powered his way to touch down near the corner flag for another try in the 51st minute of play with Gunawardena failing to add the extra points.
Fly half Nikhil de Silva put the issue beyond doubt for Royal with a beautiful try in the 65th minute of play and winger Pasindu Fernando scored the fifth try few seconds before the final whistle.
Referee: Dinka Peiris.
Preview: Deadly back hands Royal edge
By Harsha Amarasinghe
Royal College’s title defense will get underway today when they host Kingswood College, Kandy in the opening game of Inter-School League Rugby Tournament at Royal Complex on Saturday (3).
Having secured the league title twice in three years, Royal will start off the season as overwhelming favourites, but losing their head coach Sanath Martis to St. Peter’s would certainly be a blow for the Reid Avenue boys.
Wing three quarter Sabith Feroze, who has had a stunning last season, has been named as the captain of the team. The speedy back division player was among the tries for the Royalists last year and will remain one of their major threats for tries.
Centre Janidu Dilshan was as absolute workhorse in the previous season putting up a few match deciding displays. Dilshan has done tremendously defensively while also popping up with occasional tries. He will combine with Thulaib Hassen at centre which could prove to be one of Royal’s strongest positions.
Former Royal coach Martis last year hailed flanker Maleesha Madumewan as one of their best forwards. The third rower has been named vice captain for the season and will be a key player in the Royal pack this evening against Kingswood.
The team from the Hill Capital of course will look to get themselves off to a flying start having had some quiet seasons in the last few years.
Led by Tharindu Weligampola, Kingswood will be the underdogs for this opening fixture. Leading their pack is the only other senior player Rashmika Chandraratne who is playing as a prop forward.
Playing their first game at Royal Complex could always be a daunting task, but it would be interesting to see how Royal cope without head coach Martis.
Royalists have relied up on their forwards in the recent years. This has actually been a very successful ploy, but with players like Dilshan, Feroze and Hasses, they are expected to play some entertaining rugby.
Royal: Nuwan Jayawardane, Ebrahim Barrie, Aditya Weerasooriya, Samadhi Induwara, Sasitha Siyath, Risith Kavyaanjana, Maleesha Madumewan, Radesh Wijeratne, Nikhil de Silva and Lehaan Gunaratne, Sabith Feroze (captain), Janidu Dilshan, Thulaib Hassen, Yasis Rashmika, Dulan Gunawardane
Kingswood: Rashmika Chandraratne, Chethiya Herath, Milan Weerasinghe, Chathura Zoysa, Channa Gunasekara, Avishka Poornajith, Janitha Rajanayake, Shanuka Gedaragoda, Dhananjaya Nuwan and Asiri Seneviratne, Thumula Weligampola, Tharindu Weligampola (captain), Shazan Rahuman, Sachitha Seneviratne, Dinal Ekanayake
Pic: Royal College captain Sabith Feroze
Pic courtesy: Royal College