The Sunday Leader

Last Gasp Penalty spares Trinity’s Blushes

  • 70th Bradby Shield Encounter -2nd leg –  Kandy

Lions retain shield for fourth consecutive year

By Dion Michael

A last-gasp penalty enabled Trinity College to beat their arch rivals Royal College 19-18 in the second leg of the 70th Bradby Shield encounter at the Pallekele Sports Complex in Kandy yesterday.

Trinity’s points came from 1 goal and 4 penalties whilst Royal responded with 1 goal 1 try and 2 penalties. Trinity led 6-3 at half time.

Trinity thus retained the coveted Bradby Shield for a record fourth consecutive year after having won the first leg in Colombo two weeks ago by the emphatic margin of 12 points in their 28-16 defeat of Royal at the latter’s home ground.

The Pallekele Stadium was a riot of colour and packed to capacity with an even mix of supporters from Kandy and Colombo. The Royal Express train had brought in over a thousand fans into Kandy and many hundreds of others had driven up to be a part of this traditional school rugby fixture which has earned international acclaim.

Trinity who had overcome Royal with ease and entered the game with a 12-point cushion seemed set to go one better on their home grounds and run up a record score against Royal.

However, the Lions were shackled in their own den by a spirited Royal side and they struggled for fluency throughout the game.

Right from the kick off it was clear that Royal were going to revert to their traditionally tighter game and keep their forwards in control of possession and cut off the loose wide passing down the line. This they did well and as in the first leg Royal had more possession but again did not have the ability to convert this into points and they were guilty of some aimless kicking and giving back their hard fought possession to their gleeful opponents.

Every time Trinity had the ball they looked dangerous whilst Royal appeared to lack confidence in their own ability and especially in the first half they missed a couple of scoring opportunities and a chance to get an early strike in.

Trinity drew first blood in the 8th minute when Skipper Tharindu Ratwatte kicked an easy penalty to put his side 3-0 ahead and the coveted shield 15 points away from Royal.

The scores remained unchanged till the 29th minute when Royal skipper Nimshan Jayawardena put over a penalty to level the scores 3-3.

Immediately after the resumption Royal drew level again with another penalty from Jayawardena 6-6 but Trinity were soon in front again with Ratwatte’s third penalty 9-6.Just three minutes later, trinity had the lead again when Royal were penalized inside their half and Ratwatte made no mistake with the kick to put Trinity ahead once again 6-3. There was no more scoring in the first half and the sides went into half time with the score 6-3.

Royal then finally got their act together and scored a try from a rolling maul which was executed to perfection. Jayawardena missed the conversion but Royal were leading Trinity for the first time this year 11-9.

Royal then had their finest passage of play keeping play deep in the Trinity half but inexplicably losing their own line outs just metres away from the Trinity goal line.

In the midst of this, quite against the run of play Trinity scored a great try thanks to some good thinking by their skipper and a little bit of luck. Ratwatte aimed a long kick at the Royal corner flag but the ball did not roll out of play and instead bounced towards the Royal goal line and at a convenient height for Trinity’s number eight to gather it and fall over in the corner. Ratwatte added the icing on the cake with a splendid conversion. Trinity were now back in the lead 16-11.

However, Royal were not about to lay down and die. They launched wave after wave of attacks on the Trinity line but lacked the finishing touches losing possession at crucial times and being driven back. Their hunger remained and they were finally rewarded when they scored their second try off another fine rolling maul leaving many Royal fans wondering why the tactic was not used in the first leg. Jayawardena’s conversion put Royal ahead at 18-16.

The last six minutes was keenly contested by both sides and just as it seemed Royal would emerge brave winners a silly error gave the Trinitians victory on a platter. Royal’s centre in possession of the ball deep in his own half decided to run instead of the more sensible option of kicking for touch. He ran across the field and was tackled right in front of the posts and then made the cardinal error of playing the ball whilst on the ground.

Trinity’s supporters began to cheer as soon as the penalty was signaled by the Referee – 20 metres in front of the posts – it was a gift – Trinity had got out of jail. Ratwatte made no mistake with the kick capping a fine performance with a personal contribution of 14 of his side’s 19 points.

For the first time in the series the Chief Guests at the two legs of the match were the rival capatains of the same year. The Chief Guest at the first leg in Colombo was former Royal skipper of the 1976 Bradby winning team Manik Weerakumar and the Chief Guest for the Kandy leg was the Trinity captain of the same year 1976 S C Ranasinghe who presented the coveted shield to Ratwatte.

Referee Irshad Cader handled the game well.

1 Comment for “Last Gasp Penalty spares Trinity’s Blushes”

  1. wasantha

    It would have been better if you mention all the try scores name respectively this would have done by contacting there respective master in charge of rugby coz they were in the ground always after the match.
    need to find out the name of Trinity no.8 and Royal according to other papers it was Supun Warnakulasooriya and Nikila gunadeera.

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