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Wallabies ‘ready for the fight’ to restore morale – Cheika

June 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Coach Michael Cheika has vowed the Wallabies will lift the spirits of the Australian game amid a demoralising Super Rugby campaign in this week’s start to the international Test season.

Wallabies

Australian rugby is in the doldrums with its five franchises struggling and one, as yet unnamed, facing the axe when Super Rugby reverts to 15 teams next season form the current 18.

New Zealand teams are currently unbeaten in their 23 Super Rugby matches against Australian opposition this year.

Cheika said Sunday the Wallabies’ first five Tests of 2017 were going to be “like Everest for us”, but added that the players were ready for the fight.

Super Rugby takes a back seat for the next three weeks as the Wallabies take on Fiji, Scotland and Italy at home.

Also ahead in August is the Bledisloe Cup, which Australia has not been able to win back from the All Blacks since 2002.

“These first five games of our season, the three June Tests and the two Bledisloe Cup matches, are going to be like an Everest for us,” Cheika said on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Offsiders programme.

“We’ve got to be fully prepared and we’ve got to enjoy the challenge as well… and get stuck into it.

“I’m a strong and passionate believer in rugby in this country. Yeah, there’s some tough times on and off the field but it’s what you get from those and how you respond.”

Cheika added that Australian rugby fans were looking to the Wallabies to put things right on the field.

“We’ve got to play with a certain attitude that says we’re here for the fight,” he said.

“The Australian team will be playing with no fear and having been well prepared to go out there and have that positive mindset.”

While Cheika believed that Australia had “punched above our weight so far… even to be where we are now — third in the world”, he wanted to set the team’s sights even higher ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

“But maybe we’ve been satisfied at that level instead of going to the next step. You got to start believing and dreaming that.

“For the next generation of players, that’s the mindset we want to put in their head.”

The Wallabies kick off their 2017 international campaign against Fiji in Melbourne on Saturday, followed by Tests against Scotland in Sydney on June 17 and Italy in Brisbane on June 24.

Review: Royal secures League and Bradby first-leg in style

May 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

Royal College are the new Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament champions for the 2017 season.

Royal win league title

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.

SL face tough challenge from Malaysia

May 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura reporting from Malaysia

Sri Lanka will take on Malaysia in a vital Asian Rugby Championship Division One Tournament fixture in Malaysia on Saturday (20). The match will kick-off at 1.30 p.m (Sri Lanka time).

Marija
File photo of Fazil Marija

 Sri Lanka are faced with a must-win situation if they are to clinch the title but a draw would be sufficient for Malaysia to emerge Asian champions as they are on top of the points table with an extra bonus point.

Sri Lanka failed to collect a bonus point in their match against the Philippines which they won 24-13 but secured a bonus point in the game against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while winning 33-17.

In contrast, Malaysia had the satisfaction of obtaining a bonus point in both their outings against the UAE (36-22) and the Philippines (40-8) respectively.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Skipper Roshan Weeraratne said the players are quite confident and are in a good frame of mind ahead of the game against Malaysia.

“I think this will be a very tough game for us. In the past we have lost to Malaysia on several occasions. But this time we have a different game plan to counter-attack the opposition,” said Weeraratne.

However, Sri Lanka will be forced to take the field without their star player Danushka Ranjan who missed the second half of the game against the UAE following a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, veteran player Fazil Marija will make his final appearance for his country in a 15-a-side international game against Malaysia today (20).

The 31-year-old dynamic scrum half who has represented the country in both formats of the game for over a decade has already announced his retirement from club rugby after the 2017/18 season.

However, Marija said that he will continue to play sevens rugby for his country and for his club Kandy Sports Club in Inter-Club Rugby Tournaments.

The former schoolboy of Kingswood College has represented Sri Lanka in more than 5015-a-side internationals in addition to over 100 seven-a-side matches.

Royal-Trinity should be a thriller with title on the line

May 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

A rousing game of rugby is expected when the traditional rivals Royal College and Trinity College clash in the first-leg of the 73rd Annual Bradby Shield Inter-Schools encounter which will be played at Pallekele in Kandy on Saturday (20).

This match is of great significance for both teams as the winners are also assured of emerging Cup Champions in the 2017 Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Tournament.

Both teams have cleared some of the toughest hurdles on their way during their first-round matches as well as in the Cup Segment of the league and are really determined to showcase their talent and potential.

In fact, Royal and Trinity have figured in some of the most fascinating inter-school rugby games in the recent past and last year’s fixture was a classic example of their rivalry.

In a dramatic turn of events to the 2016 encounter the Bradby Shield was shared,only for the second time in the history of the series, after both teams ended with the same aggregate.

Royal clinched the first-leg 22-17 in Colombo but Trinity took the second-leg 18-13 at Pallekele and the two teams had collected 35 points each.

This year too, Royal and Trinity have maintained their reputation as two of the pioneers of the game with some dazzling rugby throughout the current inter-school season.

Even then, both teams suffered a minor setback midway in the season with Royal going down to Isipathana College (17-22) on their home grounds and Trinity losing to St. Peter’s College (13-15) at Bambalapitiya.

But apart from these two obstacles, both teams have looked quite formidable on the field and now they have set up a fascinating contest in this final week of the league tournament.

Both teams will also take the field with a great amount of confidence after having recorded morale boosting victories in their previous outings played last week.

In fact, Royal signalled a clear warning to their rivals as they warmed-up for the Bradby Shield in style while recording a comprehensive 35-19 victory over Wesley College in a vital encounter.

In contrast, Trinity had a tough outing as they were stretched to the maximum before pulling off a hard fought 15-10 victory over the reigning league champions Isipathana at Pallekele.

The key player for Royal will be their dynamic flanker Hamza Reeza who has already made a lasting impression in the current season while emerging as the most successful try scorer in the league tournament.

Reeza is in tremendous form having scored two match-winning tries in last week’s vital game against Wesley and in the previous outing he went on the rampage to score five tries against Zahira College.

In addition, Janidu Dilshan (7 tries) and Sabith Feroze (6 tries) have also been consistent try scores for Royal in the current season with Mohamed Shaqir living upto expectations as a reliable place kicker.

Trinity’s main weapon will be Diluksha Dange who has scored eight tries in the league tournament while Reshan Madena and Akitha Sakalasuriya have scored five tries each.

Trinity will be also hoping for an improved performance from their place kicker Lashane Wijesuriya who has experienced mixed fortunes in the current season.

SL record easy win over the UAE

May 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura reporting from Malaysia

Sri Lanka made it two wins out of two games in the Asian Rugby Championship Division One Tournament after beating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 33-17 in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Rugby

Sri Lanka’s 33 points came through four tries and three penalties put over by fullback Thilina Wijesinghe, who was also successful with the two conversions.

The UAE fielding a team full of expatriate players managed to collect their points from two goals and a penalty in a game played in searing heat with temperatures rising to 35 degrees celsius.

However, it took Sri Lanka less than a minute to open the scoring with flyhalf Fazil Marija scoring an unconverted try but his opposite number Andrew Stevenson reduced the lead with a fifth-minute penalty.

But Wijesinghe restored the early lead two minutes later when he put over the first of his three penalties.

Five minutes later lock forward Sharo Fernando ran in Sri Lanka’s second try before number eight Glen Moore’s converted try seven minutes later reduced UAE’s deficit to one point.

Outside Centre Danushka Ranjan changed that however, two minutes later when he scored a try which was converted by Wijesinghe.

But the centre was soon off the field after hurting his shoulder. While the extent of the injury was unknown a team official later confirmed that it was not serious.

Wijesinghe put over another penalty in this half to give Sri Lanka an 18-10 lead but Andrew Powell’s injury time converted try made it a one-point game at the break.

However, that was as close as the game got as inside centre Lee Keegal and flanker Jason Dissanayake ran in converted tries which proved to be the only scoring in the second half.

Could have done better – Weeraratne

May 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura reporting from Malaysia

Skipper Roshan Weeraratne believes that Sri Lanka could have put up a better performance in their Asian Rugby Championship Division I match against Philippines that was played on Sunday, which they won 24-13.

“We’re really happy but we could have done better. This was not our best performance but I think everybody played well. The weather was not in our favour, but we’re satisfied that we won this match,” said Weeraratne.

Weeraratne also expressed his disappointment for conceding two late tries to their opponents.

“I think Philippines scored those two tries because of our mistakes. We cannot blame any individual for that. The wet conditions did not help our cause and that was a major concern for us,” added Weeraratne.

The Sri Lanka captain also believed that Thilina Wijesinghe’s place kicking was key for Sri Lanka’s success against the Philippines.

“His performances helped us to stay ahead throughout the game. I think the try scored by Richard Dharmapala was also a vital factor for our success. But I think everybody played well in this match.”

Weeraratne also praised the efforts of senior player Fazil Marija.

“I think he’s still playing well like in the past. He’s still the same player he was 10 years back. I hope he will continue the same form in the remaining matches ,” the captain said.

Live Updates: Under 20 inter-schools rugby league tournament – Royal College vs Wesley College; St. Peter’s College vs Zahira College

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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18:19 – At full time. Royal College 35. Wesley College 19.

At full time. St. Peter’s College 43. Zahira College 16.

18:17 – Royal College score another try to extend the lead 35-19.

18:15 – St. Peter’s College score another try to extend the lead 43-16.

18:07 – Wesley College score another try to reduce the deficit to 19-28.

18:05 – Eranda Harshana scores for Wesley College to reduce the margin 14-28.

18:03 – Ashan Mendis scores for St. Peter’s College to extend the lead 36-16.

18:00 – Kalyanaratne scores for Royal College to further extend the lead 28-9.

17:53 – J. Dilshan scores for Royal College to extend the lead 21-9.

17:48 – Royal College still hold on to their 14-9 lead.

17:46 – Raveen Fernando scores for St. Peter’s College to extend the lead 31-9.

17:40 – T. Dassanayake scores for St. Peter’s College to extend the lead 24-9.

17:32 – St. Peter’s College extend the lead with another try. 17-9.

17:31 – Royal College take the lead with a try from Nikhil de Silva. 14-9.

17:03 – Singhwansa converts his third penalty to give Zahira a 9-5 lead.

17:01 – Hamza Reeza scores for Royal College to take the lead 7-6.

16:52 – St. Peter’s College reduce the margin with a try from F. Abdullah. 5-6.

16:46 – Singhwansa puts over another penalty to give Zahira a 6-0 lead.

16:37 – Avishka Lee puts Wesley in front with a penalty. 3-0.

16:37 – Zahira College open scoring with a penalty. 3-0.

Live updates: Under 20 inter-schools rugby league tournament – Isipathana College vs Wesley College; St. Joseph’s College vs S. Thomas’ College

May 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Full time – Trinity 15 Isipathana 10

At full time. St. Joseph’s College 26, S. Thomas’ College 12.

17:26 – S. Thomas’ College reduce the margin with their second try. 12-26.

17:04 – S. Thomas’ College score another try to extend the lead 26-7.

16:51 – Isipathana pull back with a unconverted try. 12-05

16:50 – Sachith Silva scores again for St. Joseph’s College to lead 19-0.

16:44 – Trinity add to the scoring. 12-00

16:44 – Avishka Lee puts over another penalty to give Wesley a 6-0 lead.

16:43 – St. Joseph’s College score their second try to lead 14-0.

16:37 – Trinity College open the scoring with a try. 7-0

St. Joseph’s College open scoring with a Sachin Silva try. 7-0.

16:35 – Match kicks off at Royal Complex between Wesley and Royal

Match between St. Joseph’s vs S. Thomas’ kicks off

We have picked the best available talent – Michael Jayasekera

May 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Shehan Daniel 

Having picked from the best available talent, Michael Jayasekera, Chairman of Selectors of the Sri Lanka rugby team, on Monday said that he was confident the team could perform well at the Asian Championship Division I rugby tournament, which begins in Malaysia this weekend.

Sri Lanka, who were runners up in last year’s tournament, will open their campaign against Malaysia this Sunday, before taking on Philippines and the United Arab Emirates next week in a bid to qualify for the Asian Top Three tournament.

“The squad was selected from the best that we had. The players who were omitted were players who chose not to turn up for practice. There were about six players who wanted to focus on sevens and therefore opted out of this tournament,” Jayasekera said.

“I think this squad can still perform and we are hoping and expecting to win this tournament.”

Jayasekera however added that the inter-club rugby season had limited the time available to pick a squad and train for this tournament.

“We would have liked a longer preparation period, and the time we had was far too short for a tournament of this nature. Ideally the club tournament should have been held a lot earlier to give us time to prepare.”

The team will be led by Kandy SC scrum-half Roshan Weeraratne and coached by Fereti Verebula.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Rugby released the names of 25 players who would make the tour and also six standbys.

The 25 member squad: Ashan Darling, Ashoka Jayalal, Chanaka Chandimal, Dhanushka Ranjan, Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Fazil Marija, Ganuka Dissanayake, Jason Dissanayake, Joel Perera, Lavanga Perera, Lee Keegal, Niroshan Fernando, Nishon Perera, Omalka Gunaratne, Prasad Madushanka, Richard Dharmapala, Richie Dharmapala, Roshan Weeraratne (Captain), Sajith Saranga, Sathya Ranatunga, Sharo Fernando, Soyuru Anthony, Taariq Salih, Thilina Wijesinghe and Umesha Madushan

Standbys: Damith Dissanayake, Gayan Jayamanne, Sashan Mohammed, Radeesha Seneviratne, Stephen Gregory, Sudam Sooriyarachchi

Delayed kick-offs and uncalled for stoppages ruining schools rugby

May 5, 2017 by · 3 Comments 

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By Shehan Daniel

For all the on field quality in the ongoing Under-20 Schools Rugby Tournament, poor organisation and administration has left much to be desired for spectators and fans who patronise these venues, with delayed kick-offs and uncalled for stoppages, which has an adverse impact on the rhythm and flow of play.

In fact, last week’s match between Trinity College and St. Peter’s College was a case in point with the game finishing well after the scheduled time of conclusion with it ending in near darkness.

‘Daily Mirror’ spoke to World Rugby qualified accredited Match Commissioner Dilroy Fernando, one of the most recognizable faces in local rugby.

He said that it was not the only such incident this season that highlighted the want of organisation and administration, which he added was not only unfair to spectators, who are charged to watch matches, but also have an impact on the safety of players.

“Our Under-18 and Under-20 rugby is among the best in Asia yet are we among the best in organising matches? Sri Lanka has a strong following for schools rugby and from my experience is probably second only to Japan in the whole of Asia. But it is sad to see the standard being set by the Schools Association (Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association), match commissioners’ and schools themselves in ensuring that there is a quality product for spectators who pay and attend matches. Games don’t start on time because of school anthems, player introductions and the arrival of the chief guests which are of secondary importance, compared to the players and the game itself,” Fernando said.

“When games finish in darkness there is concern about player safety and welfare, and is also a compromise on the quality of the product spectators pay for. Referees and match officials need to work back from the time of kick-off to ensure that whatever precedes the game doesn’t delay the starting time, with enough time given for preparation for players and officials. It is also important to give the players two or three minutes to warm-up after the pre-match formalities as well.”

“Are the schools, match commissioners and organisers really concerned about player safety and welfare?” Fernando questioned.

Fernando, who conducted a training programme for match officials, also expressed his shock at the lack of understanding among match commissioners’ on what their roles are.

“There is also a lack of understanding among match commissioners. Being a qualified match commissioner I undertook to train match commissioners and shockingly they thought their roles were limited to just keeping track of scorers and other statistics during the course of the game. I have had to explain that they play an important role in ensuring that the match conditions are adequate and suitable, and that they are also responsible to make sure everything happens on time,” Fernando said.

“They also need to be active and engaged in the game.”

Fernando also said that the improper implementation of the Television Match Official (TMO) had made it virtually redundant and become part of the problem.

“Do we really need this TMO? Who does it benefit? There needs to be a proper protocol in what is referred to the TMO and sometimes it takes several minutes for the TMO to arrive at a decision and that too, inconclusively. Even those stoppages can lead to player injuries, since their bodies cool down during those delays,” Fernando said.

“There needs to be suitable infrastructure and protocol for the TMO to be implemented properly. World Rugby is doing everything they can to speed up the game, so delays like this don’t really help,” Fernando also said, driving home his strong argument.

Review: Giant-killing Petes stun Trinity

May 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

St. Peter’s College have done it again and this time in a more spectacular manner. Last week, at Bambalapitya they created the second major upset of the Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament.

The Peterites produced another giant killing performance to bring down the high riding unbeaten Trinity College side 15-13 in a thrilling second-round opening fixture.

This was a tremendous achievement for the Peterites considering the fact that they went into this vital game at the backdrop of some uncertainty after having suffered two successive defeats at the hands of St. Joseph’s College and Dharmaraja College respectively.

In addition St. Peter’s were under great amount of pressure to perform well as they started the game minus a couple of key players who were still recovering from injuries.

In contrast, Trinity had all the reasons to feel confident as they went in with a clean record having made a clean sweep during the first-round of the competition and as the only side to remain unbeaten in the tournament.

However, Trinity’s hopes were completely shattered as the Peterites grabbed the opportunity to showcase their capabilities while collecting their points from one goal, one try and one penalty.

Trinity of course could have even forced a draw had they converted their second try but altogether this was certainly not their day as the visitors struggled to put up a decent performance under pressure.

In fact, Trinity were guilty of making a series of cardinal errors at some vital stages of the game and they will need to brush up all their mistakes before going into the next game of the second-round tournament.

In contrast, this success will certainly be a huge morale booster for St. Peter’s ahead of their remaining fixtures of the second-round.

They managed to secure only three victories in the first-round of the league but now they have a very good chance of causing a major threat to some of the more fancied teams in the tournament.

Royal vs S. Thomas’

Royal College put up a clinical performance to beat their traditional rivals S. Thomas’ College 31-14 in another Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match played at Mount Lavinia.

After the exchanges were almost even during the first half, Royal cut loose in the second half in typical style as they sealed the game in their favour with three classic tries during the latter stages.

Royal also regained the Michael Gunaratne Trophy as they collected their points from three goals and two tries after trailing 12-14 at half time while the Thomians managed to score only two goals.

The manner in which Royal turned the game in their favour in the second half was simply outstanding as all three tries were the result of some brilliant counter attacks which they executed to perfection.

In contrast, S. Thomas’ just could not exploit the home advantage as they looked a pretty ordinary side which largely depended heavily on a couple of individuals.

Wesley vs St. Joseph’s

Wesley College delivered a stunning blow as they defeated St. Joseph’s College 23-14 in another Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match played at Longden Place.

The Wesleyites seem to be enjoying playing their game under pressure as once again they were severely tested throughout the match but were able to hold their nerves and record a very important victory in the end.

Wesley ensured that they made the least amount of mistakes on the field and applied more pressure on the opposition which enabled them to touch down on two occasions.

Even then, the outstanding place kicking of their scrum half Avishka Lee had a huge bearing on the final outcome of this game as he stamped his class once again with three magnificent penalties and two vital conversions.

The Josephians of course will be really disappointed with the result as they came into this game with their heads high after having recorded four successive victories in the first-round of the league tournament.

Isipathana vs Zahira

Isipathana College started their second-round campaign of the Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament with a smashing 48-10 triumph over Zahira College in their encounter played at Havelock Park.

This was a wonderful performance by Isipathana who used all their experience and tactics of the game to outclass their opponents while collecting their points from four goals and four tries.

In fact, Isipathana raced to a huge 26-5 lead at half time as they ran circles around the Zahiradefence and went on to consolidate their position during the second half.

Zahira of course did not know what exactly hit them initially as they conceded too many tries to their opponents in the first half and from there onwards they never looked like making a match of it.

Petes end Trinity’s unbeaten record

April 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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St. Peter’s College created another major upset as they brought down the unbeaten Trinity side 15-13 in a thrilling Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament second-round match worked off at Bambalapitiya on Saturday (29).

Trinity

The Peterites after their stunning win over Isipathana College in a first-round fixture put up another giant killing performance as they collected their points from one goal, one try and one penalty.

Trinity of course took the initiative as they built up a close 8-3 lead at half time but some crucial mistakes cost them the match as they responded with two unconverted tries and one penalty.

Royal down Thomians to regain Gunaratne Trophy

April 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

Royal College regained the Michael Gunaratne Trophy when they defeated their traditional rivals S. Thomas’ College 31-14 in their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament second-round fixture worked off at Mount Lavinia on Saturday (29).

royal

Royal who were trailing 12-14 at half time came back strongly with a spirited performance in the second half to turn the game in their favour while collecting their points from three goals and two tries.

The Thomians after a promising start completely lost their way during the latter part of the second half as they surrendered quite meekly while managing to score only two converted tries.

Royal opened scoring shortly after the kick-off with JaniduDilshan going over for a magnificent try with Mohamed Shakir adding the extra points.

However, S. Thomas’ bounced back in style with Christian de Lile adding the finishing touches to a superb move and Dion Dias made no mistake with the conversion to make it 7-7.

Few minutes later, S. Feroze found a huge gap in the Thomiandefenceand Shakir missed the conversion but Royal managed to extend the lead to a commanding 12-7 at that stage.

S. Thomas’ hit back almost immediately and succeeded in putting the opposition under pressure while bringing play into the Royal territory through some excellent rucking and mauling.

The home side managed to penetrate the Royal defence for the second time in the match as H. Senanayake went over following a crucial five metre scrum. Dias added the extra points and S. Thomas’ went into half time with a 14-12 lead.

But the Thomians could not add any points to their tally in the second half with Royal taking full control of the situation with their forwards and the three quarters forming a great combination.

The team from Reid Avenue planted three classic tries during a dominant second half performance with S. Feroze, R. Fernando and Y. Rashmika doing the honours in style.

Skakir managed to convert only one try but yet Royal ran out victorious by a convincing margin of 31-14.

Wesley stun lackluster Joes to claim emphatic victory

April 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Shannon Nicholas

Wesley College proved to be too strong for St. Joseph’s College as they held on to a 23–14 win in the first game of round two of the Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament 2017 held at the CR & FC Grounds on Friday (28).

Wesley

 

The winners collected their points through two goals and three penalties while the losers were only able to gather two goals. The ‘Double Blues’ held a 09-00 advantage over their opponents at lemons.

The Wesleyites finished second best at the group stages after some great performances while the Joes finished one place below them, and the affair was tipped to be an exciting one.

Wesley started off brilliantly, pushing themselves deeper into Josephian territory in view of inflicting an early damage on the Joes. They managed to draw first blood with just 8 minutes in to the game when Avishka Lee bisected the poles after being awarded a penalty. Wesley kept attacking and earned themselves a penalty which was successfully converted by Avishka 15 minutes later, which doubled their lead.

Both teams were not able to alter the scoreboard for some time although many chances of scoring were missed.

Wesley managed to break the silence on the verge of half-time when Avishka was successful yet again in kicking the ball between the poles before Referee Rohan Fernando blew for half-time. Half-time scores: Wesley 9 – 0 Joseph’s

The Joes must have taken maximum advantage of the short break as a rejuvenated Josephian outfit was seen as play was resumed.

They started off strongly and managed to put up their first points for the day when Skipper Vinul Fernando touched down after some nifty team play with just a few minutes into the second half. Chathura Senevirathne added the extras with ease and the scores were set to 9 – 7.

Vinul came close to scoring a second try few minutes later when he dashed past a disarrayed Wesley backline to touchdown but the Referee cancelled it due to a knockon which had taken place prior to it. Wesley Captain Denister Goonethilake got the better of the Josephian defence as he crossed the line to plant Wesley’s first try of the day.

After some passing dangerously close to the try line, Wesley overcame the Joes’ defence as Goonethilake slipped through for the try. Avishka was on point with the conversion and the scores were altered to 16 – 7. Both teams kept attacking in search of points but failed to do so for more than 30 minutes, during which many close chances were witnessed.

Wesley dominated possession however and would’ve almost scored if not for the Josephians who stood tall to prevent any slip-ups. Channa Ashoka pulled one back for the Josephians when the scrum-half collected the ball through a throw-in close to the try line and went over to touch down. Senevirathne was successful at the conversion and the scores were made 16 – 14.

With time running out for them, the Josephians put on a valiant try to continue with the momentum built and putting up more points but all hope was lost when Wesley were awarded a penalty try after a collective team effort.

Avishka converted and altered the scores for one last time to 23 – 14 before the Referee blew the long whistle.

Wesley and St. Joseph’s looking to consolidate

April 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

Two equally good teams St. Joseph’s College and Wesley College will be looking to make a winning start to their second-round campaign when they clash in a Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament fixture at Longden Place on Friday (28).

Both teams were able to make vast strides during the first-round almost in similar style and this confrontation should turn out to be a vital encounter in an attempt to consolidate their position.

The Wesleyites have been riding on a crest of a wave since their initial setback in the tournament where they suffered a morale shattering 24-64 defeat at the hands of Trinity College in the opening match of the league at Longden Place.

But since then the team from Campbell Park have improved tremendously to make rapid progress as they went on to record four successive victories over Prince of Wales College (28-10), S. Thomas’ College (23-19), Science College Mount Lavinia (36-10) and Zahira College (32-29) respectively.

As a result Wesley were able to complete the first-round on a high note and were placed as the team with the second best average (4.7) in the points table which put them even ahead of the more fancied Isipathana College (4.67) and Royal College (4.58).

St. Joseph’s also made a disastrous start to the tournament while losing their first two matches even though they were within a chance of pulling off the game in both outings.

They made a lasting impression in their very first outing while providing Royal plenty of anxious moments before going down fighting 22-28 in a thrilling encounter at the Royal Sports Complex.

The Josephians then stretched the defending champions Isipathana College to the maximum in their second outing before they eventually surrendered 32-39 following a gruelling encounter played at Longden Place.

But thereafter, St. Joseph’s have been unstoppable as they went on to complete the first-round with four back-to-back impressive victories over Dharmaraja College (44-10), St. Anthony’s College (24-11), St. Peter’s College (25-10) and D. S. Senanayake College (72-10).

Even then Wesley will take the field under some kind of pressure as they suffered a shock defeat at the hands of their traditional rivals Kingswood College in their annual encounter played at the Bogambara Stadium in Kandy last week.

The Joes of course possess a formidable side and they have some genuine match winners in the calibre of Sachin Silva (6 tries), ChaturaSeneviratne (4), Vinul Fernando (4) and Gamunu Chethiya (4).

Avantha Lee has been really outstanding for Wesley with six magnificent tries to his credit while his twin brother Avishka Lee has scored three tries in addition to putting over three penalties and making ten conversions for his side.

Pathana to face acid test from Zahira

April 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

Isipathana College will face an acid test when they take on Zahira College in their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament second-round opening fixture at Havelock Park on Friday (28).

Zahira have always proved that they could be a dangerous outfit with some outstanding rugby this season and are capable of bringing down even the best on their day.

Despite making a comeback into ‘A’ Division Rugby after a lapse of many years,Zahira have won plenty of admiration for their robust style of play which has surprised quite a number of schools this year.

In fact, Zahira were able to finish among the top four teams in the Segment 11A points table after having recorded two stunning victories over Science College Mount Lavinia (19-13) and Prince of Wales (64-12) respectively.

The significant feature in Zahira’s performances this season was that they were able to stretch every opposition to the maximum before eventually going down fighting.

Altogether, Zahira could consider themselves rather unfortunate considering the fact that some of their games were very close and they were beaten by a couple of points in the end.

Theirmatches against S. Thomas’ College (24-29), Trinity College (26-34) and Wesley College (29-32) are classic examples of theirspirited performances as their opponents were severely tested until the final whistle.

Even then, Isipathana will start as clear favourites to pull off the game considering the fact that they are in tremendous form after completing the first-round of the tournament quite successfully.

The defending champions of course suffered a major setback mid-way in the season when they lost to St. Peter’s College (15-32) at Bambalapitiya.

However, Isipathana were able to make amends and still they finished on top of the Segment 1A points table after recording victories over Dharmaraja College (18-12), St. Joseph’s College (39-32), St. Anthony’s College (43-35), Royal College (22-17) and D. S. Senanayake College (69-13) respectively.

They will be hoping to maintain the same form in the second-round as well even though they are certain to receive some tough opposition from an unpredictable Zahira team.

In fact, Zahira’s two main weapons will be their play maker Zaid Singhawansa and Yuzraan Lantra who have been simply brilliant on the field throughout their first-round matches.

Singhawansa has emerged as the highest points’ scorer so far in the current season with six tries, five penalties and 16 conversions to his credit.

In addition, Lantra has scored nine spectacular tries during their five matches in the first-round and once again he could cause a major threat to the opposition.

Meanwhile, Isipathana’s star player this season has been Chamod Fernando who has planted seven magnificent tries in addition to making eight conversions during their six outings in the first-round.

In addition, a lot will also depend on the experienced players Harith Bandara and N. Chaminda who have scored four tries each in the current season.

Joes record third successive win

April 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

Isipathana College, St. Joseph’s College and St. Anthony’s College recorded contrasting victories during last week’s Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament matches worked off on Saturday (1).

Even then St. Joseph’s success had a great amount of significance as they were able to bring down a confident St. Peter’s College Team 25-10 in a vital game played at Bambalapitiya.

The Josephiansdespite performing away from home certainly played to their potential and outplayed their traditional rivals as they also retained the Rev. Fr. Basil Wirathunga Shield for the second successive year.

This was easily one of the better performances from St. Joseph’s in the current season as they took up the challenge under tremendous pressure and went on to seal the game while collecting their points from two goals, one try and two penalties.

The manner in which St. Joseph’s have progressed in their last couple of games of the tournament is quite outstanding and now they are assured of a top three finish in the Segment 1A points table.

This has been a splendid turnaround of events for the Joes after they had conceded the opening two games of the league to the defending champions Isipathana and Royal which turned out to be very close matches.

But since then they have remained unbeaten and now they have three successive victories under their belt and looking even more dangerous with the second-round fixtures coming up shortly.

St. Anthony’s vs Dharmaraja

St. Anthony’s College kept their hopes alive of making a top-four finish in the points table when they recorded a hard fought 34-24 victory over home town rivals Dharmaraja College in another key Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament fixture worked off at the Nittawela Stadium in Kandy.

This was easily one of the greatest comebacks in the current season as the Antoniansgave a fine display of their talent and potential to turn a certain defeat into a memorable triumph.

The manner in which the Antonians went about their task was really outstanding and they always believed in themselves which was the prime reason for their success in this game.

In fact, they were trailing by a couple of points going into the last ten of minutes of play and the pressure was mounting on them with Dharmaraja holding on determinedly.

However, in a dramatic turn of events St. Anthony’s managed to score twice during the latter stages of the game and with that they were able to snatch a fascinating victory from the jaws of defeat.

The most significant fact about the Antonians’ performance was that they always kept trying despite trailing and eventually they were rewarded for their hard work with a morale boosting victory.

Isipathana vs D. S. Senanayake

Isipathana College completed their first-round fixtures with a rousing 69-13 victory over D. S. Senanayake College in their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament match worked off at Welisara.

The defending champions made certain that they would finish on top of the points table with another ruthless performance as they ran down as many as 11 tries with a fine display of power rugby.

Isipathana of course sealed the game in their favour even before half time and they did not mind providing the opportunity for the less experienced players to showcase their talent during the second half.

Live update: Under 20 Schools Rugby – St. Joseph’s College vs St. Peter’s College, Isipathana College vs D. Senanayake College, St. Anthony’s College vs Dharmaraja College

April 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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18:13 – At full time. St. Anthony’s College 34, Dharmaraja College 24

18:10 – St. Joseph’s College virtually seals the game with another converted try. St. Joseph’s 25, St. Peter’s College 10

18:06 – St. Peter’s College scores their second try to reduce the margin. St. Joseph’s 18, St. Peter’s 10 

18:00 – St, Anthony’s College further extend the lead with an unconverted try. St. Anthony’s 34, Dharmaraja 24

17:56 – At full time. Isipathana College 68, D. S. Senanayake College 13

17:54 – D. S. Senanayake College scores a consolation try. Isipathana College 13

17:45 – St. Peter’s scores their first try to reduce the lead. St. Joseph’s 13, St. Peter’s 05

17:43 – St. Joseph’s further extend the lead with an unconverted try. St. Joseph’s 13, St. Peter’s 00

17:40 – St. Anthony’s College regains the lead with  a converted try. St. Anthony’s 29, Dharmaraja 24

17:39 – Isipathana College College pile up more points with another try. Isipathana 69, D. S. Senanayake 08 

17:35 – Isipathana College scores another try. Isipathana 64, D. S. Senanayake 08

17:35 – St. Joseph’s extend lead with another penalty. St. Joseph’s 13, St. Peter’s 00

17:30 – Second half underway at Bambalapitiya 

17:29 – St. Anthony’s College reduced the margin with an unconverted try. Dharmaraja 24, St. Anthony’s 22

17:27 – Isipathana College scores another converted try. Isipathana 59, D. S. Senanayake 08

17:24 – Isipathana College tops the 50 point mark with a converted try. Isipathana 52, D. S. Senanayake 08

17:21 – Isipathana College further extend lead with a converted try. Isipathana 45, D. S. Senanayake 08

17:20 – At half-time. St. Joseph’s 10, St. Peter’s 00

17:19 – Dharmaraja College extend lead with an unconverted try. Dharmaraja 24, St. Anthony’s 17

17:17 – St. Joseph’s College extend their lead. St. Joseph’s 10, St. Peter’s 00 

17:13 – St. Joseph’s College open the scoring with a penalty. St. Joseph’s 03, St. Peter’s 00

17:09 – Second half underway at Welisara

17:08 – No scoring yet at Bambalapitiya after 30 minutes of play

17:06 – At half-time. Dharmaraja 19, St. Anthony’s 17

17:00 – At half-time. Isipathana 38, D. S. Senanayake 08

16:58 – St. Anthony’s College score their second try to reduce the lead. Dharmaraja 19, St. Anthony’s 17

16:57 – St. Peter’s College misses a penalty. St. Peter’s 00, St. Joseph’s 00 

16:55 – St. Anthony’s College puts over a penalty to reduce the margin. Dharmaraja 19, St. Anthony’s 10

16:54 – Isipathana College scores another converted try. Isipathana 38, D. S. Senanayake 08

16:50 – No scoring yet at Bambalapitiya 

16:50 – Dharmaraja College scores another try. Dharmaraja 19, St. Anthony’s 07

16:48 – Isipathana College plant another try. Isipathana 31, D. Senanayake 08

16:47 – Isipathana College scores again. Isipathana 26, D. S. Senanayake 08

16:47 – D. S. Senanayake put over a penalty.  Isipathana 19, D. S. Senanayake 08

16:45 – St. Anthony’s reduce the deficit with a converted try. Dharmaraja 12, St. Anthony’s 07

16:40 – Isipathana College score their third try to extend the lead. Isipathana 19, D. S. Senanayake 00

16:39 – D. Senanayake hits back with an unconverted try. Isipathana 14, D. S. Senanayake 05

16:38 – Dharmaraja College increase the lead with an unconverted try. Dharmaraja 12, St. Anthony’s 00

16:37 – Match started at Bambalapitiya between St. Joseph’s College and St. Peter’s College

16:34 – Dharmaraja College open scoring with a converted try. Dharmaraja 07, St. Anthony’s College 00

16:34 – Isipathana College open scoring almost with the kick-off. Isipathana 07, D. S. Senanayake 00

16:30 – Matched kicked-off at Welisara between Isipathana College vs D. S. Senanayake College 

16:29 – St. Anthony’s College vs Dharmaraja College kicks off at Nittawela 

Wales unchanged for Six Nations finale against France

March 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Wales will field an unchanged side against France in their final match of the 2017 Six Nations, it was announced Wednesday.

Wales

Interim head coach Rob Howley has retained the same starting line-up that beat Ireland 22-9 at home last week for Saturday’s match in Paris.

If Wales win — and England beat Ireland in Dublin on Saturday to secure a Grand Slam — it will mean that the Welsh are assured of a top-four position in the world rankings ahead of the 2019 World Cup pool draw in May.

Saturday will see Wales bidding for their sixth straight win over France in a match where hooker Ken Owens wins his 50th cap, with experienced Bath forwards Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris remaining on the bench.

Although Wales have already been beaten by England and Scotland this season, a win at the Stade de France could see them finish second behind already-crowned champions England if other results fall in their favour.

“I was delighted for the players about Friday’s result and performance, and they deserve the opportunity to build on that in our final RBS 6 Nations encounter,” said Howley after announcing his team.

The former Wales scrum-half, in charge while Wales head coach Warren Gartland is seconded to the British and Irish Lions for the combined side’s tour of New Zealand in June and July, and his team had faced criticism after the successive defeats by England and Scotland.

But Wales responded impressively by scoring three tries against Ireland, including two from powerhouse wing George North, while not conceding any at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium last Friday.

“The experience we showed and the intensity we brought to the match was hugely important, and that will be just as important as we face a good France team at home,” said Howley. “We put pressure on ourselves and turned that pressure into a result.”

He added: “For us, there are areas of the game we want to work on from Ireland, and we have an opportunity to do that on Saturday and finish the campaign with another quality performance.

“The players who took to the field at the Principality Stadium deserve the opportunity to start, and we were pleased with the impact from the bench, so will be looking for the same this weekend.”

Wales have not lost at the Stade de France since a 28-9 defeat in 2011.

They will face a France side who’ve also won two out of their four Six Nations matches so far this season, following victories over Scotland and Italy.

All Black Milner-Skudder out for six weeks

March 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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All Black utility back Nehe Milner-Skudder was told on Tuesday he will be out for at least six weeks with a foot injury, leaving his dream of facing the British and Irish Lions hanging by a thread.

Nehe Milner-Skudder

Milner-Skudder fell awkwardly in a tackle during Wellington Hurricanes’ Super Rugby loss to Waikato Chiefs on Friday and scans showed a break in his right foot.

“It’s disappointing but these things happen in rugby… it was just a freak accident,” he said in a statement.

The Hurricanes said it was a small fracture that required rest, not surgery, but Milner-Skudder would be out for at least six weeks.

The match was only Milner-Skudder’s second outing after a season-long layoff in 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He scored a hat-trick of tries in his comeback against the Melbourne Rebels.

A six-week Super Rugby absence, possibly longer, puts the 26-year-old on the sidelines until late April.

With the Lions arriving in June, that leaves him only half a dozen Super Rugby matches to persuade All Blacks selectors he is fully fit.

Milner-Skudder’s last Test was the 2015 Rugby World Cup final against Australia, when he scored a try to take his tally for the tournament to six.

His chances of facing the Lions may be boosted by the fact that fellow All Black backs Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Seta Tamanivalu and Lima Sopoaga are all nursing injuries after the bruising early Super Rugby rounds.

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