By Chris Dhambarage
Royal College are the new Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament champions for the 2017 season.
The team from Reid Avenue delivered the final blow on Saturday to regain the coveted title by overcoming the traditional rivals Trinity College 22-17 at Pallekele in Kandy.
Royal’s success had a great amount of significance as they also cleared their first hurdle in their attempt to win the prestigious Bradby Shield.
Royal will now carry a five point advantage over their rivals when they clash once again in the second-leg of the 73rd annual encounter on June 3 at the Royal College Sports Complex.
The manner in which Royal performed in this last Cup Segment fixture of the league tournament was really outstanding as they were under tremendous pressure even before the kick-off.
But they lived upto expectations as a true champion outfit while folding up twice from an early setback before recording a memorable and historic victory away from home.
Royal suffered an early setback and they were trailing 0-5 shortly after the kick-off and once again they were up against it when the home side snatched a 12-10 lead few minutes after the interval.
However, Royal seems to have made it a habit of turning things around in their favour in the second half as once again they showed their prowess by producing some exhilarating rugby during the latter stages of the game.
They scored two back-to-back tries midway in the second half through Hamza Reeza to build up a commanding lead and then held on determinedly and deprived the home side of scoring with some superb cover defence.
In fact the current season turned out to be a memorable one for Reeza who emerged as the most successful try scorer with 14 tries to his credit in the league tournament.
Isipathana vs Wesley
Isipathana College produced a splendid second half rally to beat Wesley College 28-0 in their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament final Cup Championship fixture played at Havelock Park.
This victory also ensured Isipathana the runners-up position in the league points table as they concluded the proceedings in the league tournament on a high note.
Even then, Isipathana probably expected a tough challenge from their opponents in this vital game but quite surprisingly they had things almost to their liking especially in the second half.
In fact, Wesley never looked the same team as they had performed in the earlier matches as they surrendered to their opponents quite meekly in their final outing.
The Wesleyites of course managed to apply some pressure to their opponents in the first half as Isipathana struggled initially and took a slender 8-0 lead at the break.
However, once they got their act together well and settled down, the home side really went on the rampage and added four more tries to their tally in the second half which helped them to complete a rousing victory in the end.
St. Peter’s vs S. Thomas’
S. Thomas’ College came from behind with a tremendous performance to force a thrilling 25-25 draw to their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament second-round fixture against St. Peter’s College worked off at Bambalapitiya.
This was no doubt a major setback for the Peterites considering the fact they started the match as favourites following some impressive performances in their earlier matches.
But the Thomians who were trailing 12-15 at half time came back strongly in the second half and went on to share the honours with their rivals while collecting their points from two goals, one try and two penalties.
The Peterites of course made a promising start as they took the initiative and set the pace for a convincing victory at one stage but had to settle for a draw in the end with their points coming through two goals, one try and two penalties.
Even then, S. Thomas’ had the satisfaction of retaining the Archibald Perera Memorial Trophy by virtue of their victory in last year’s encounter.
The Thomians could have even snatched the game from the jaws of defeat as their reliable place kicker Dion Dias fluffed an easy under the post penalty during the latter stages of the game.
St. Joseph’s vs Zahira
St. Joseph’s College had the satisfaction of concluding the league fixtures on a high note as they powered their way to a resounding 38-14 victory over Zahira College in their match played at Welisara.
The Josephians collected their points from one goal, five tries and two penalties while Zahira responded with two goals.
The Joes of course got off to a splendid start as they built up a commanding 18-0 lead at half time while scoring three superb tries and also fired across a penalty during a dominant performance.
However, Zahira hit back in the second half and surprised their opponents as they managed to touch down on two occasions and also converted both tries to keep their hopes alive.
But St. Joseph’s added the finishing touches in style as they went on to plant three more tries in the second half and also fired across a penalty to increase the lead to put the issue beyond doubt.