By Chris Dhambarage
Wesley College have created the first major upset in the current Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament.
Last week, they produced a stunning performance to beat the favourites S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia 23-19 in a thrilling encounter worked off at Longden Place.
The Wesleyites who started the game at the backdrop of some uncertainty dished out some fantastic rugby to edge-out their opponents while collecting their points from four tries and one penalty.
The Thomians of course made a promising start to the game as they built up a crucial 19-13 lead at half time but could not add any points to their tally in the second half as they responded with two goals and one try.
Wesley were also able to avenged their last year’s defeat as they went on to regain the Sir Oliver Gunathilake Shield while recording their second victory in the current season.
No doubt the return of their six suspended players back into the side certainly made a huge difference for the Wesleyites as they dominated the second half and turned the game in their favour.
Even then, it were the Thomians who drew first blood as they opened scoring shortly after the kick-off before Wesley came back with a penalty and a try to snatch the lead 8-5.
However, S. Thomas’ took control from there onwards and scored two converted tries as they extended their lead to a commanding 19-18 shortly before half time.
Wesley hit back with their second try of the match a couple of minutes before the interval as they reduced the deficit to 13-19 at that stage.
The Wesleyites played with more cohesive in the second half as they managed to retain possession for a longer period which helped them to touch down twice and seal the game.
Dharmaraja vs Royal
Royal College recovered from an early setback to beat Dharmaraja College 18-15 in another exciting Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match played at the Nittawela Stadium in Kandy.
Skipper Ovin Askey emerged as the match winner for Royal as he fired across a last minute drop goal to seal the game after the scores had been level 15-15 for quite some time.
Royal were under tremendous pressure after having conceded a 10-15 lead to their opponents but as they have performed in the past they staged a remarkable comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Rajans were of course heading towards a memorable triumph at one stage after they had dominated the first half where they scored twice through their speedy three quarters.
But in a most dramatic turn of events Royal went on to have the final laugh as their Skipper Askey dropped a peach of a drop goal from 20 metres out to dash Dharmaraja’s hopes.
Zahira vs Trinity
Trinity College managed to maintain their unbeaten record with a hard fought 34-26 victory over Zahira College in a vital Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match played at Maradana.
The Trinitiansnever had things easy against this fighting Zahira outfit under wet conditions and they certainly had to put up their best performance to clear this tough hurdle.
They had to use all their experience and the skills to master their opponents and it was after scoring six tries that they were able to bring down the opposition and register their third successive victory in the tournament.
This was another close encounter for Zahira who have already made a lasting impression having made their entry into top division rugby after a lapse of many years.
They were able to topple the more fancied Science College outfit 19-13 in their opening match of the tournament and last week they nearly brought down S. Thomas’ College at this same venue.
However, Zahira will need to learn the art of winning matches if they are to stay among the top contenders for the title this season.
They have been outstanding and overenthusiastic at times but likewise they need to be consistent and be able to add the finishing touches as well.
Isipathana vs St. Anthony’s
Isipathana College survived a fierce second half rally to beat St. Anthony’s College 43-35 in a high scoring Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match worked off at Havelock Park.
The match will be of great significance for the number of tries scored with Isipathana going over on seven occasions and converting four of them while the Antonians responded with six tries and converting just one in addition to putting over a penalty.
Even then, Isipathana were heading towards a more convincing victory at one stage after having built up a commanding 24-13 lead at half time.
The Antonians came back into the game with four tries in the second half as they nearly created a major upset but their reliable place kicker Samuel Maduwantha was completely off colour making just a solitary conversion.
D. S. Senanayake vs St. Peter’s
St. Peter’s College had the satisfaction of recording a comfortable 36-5 win over D. S. Senanayake College in their Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match played at Welisara.
The Peterites after their setback in the previous outing had the opportunity of making some amends as they went on to score six tries and converted four of them in addition to a penalty.
D. S. Senanayake of course started off very promisingly but they were unable to maintain the same momentum and managed to score just a solitary try.