Lion-hearted Trinity win, but Royal retain Bradby | Sunday Observer

Lion-hearted Trinity win, but Royal retain Bradby

Royal College players Adithiya Weerasuriya, Rajindu Jayasuriya, Radesh Wijeratne,Samadhi Induwara, Fadhil Adahan, Achitha Radeeshan, Kevin Samarasekera, Lahiru Tillekaratne,Nipuna Yasojana, Kalindu Nandila, Migara Mihishanka, Thulaib Hassen (captain), Lehaan Gunaratne, Yasis Rashmika and Dulan Gunawardena celebrate winning the Bradby Shield after their match against Trinity College at the Royal Complex ground in Colombo yesterday.  Pic: Thilak Perera
Royal College players Adithiya Weerasuriya, Rajindu Jayasuriya, Radesh Wijeratne,Samadhi Induwara, Fadhil Adahan, Achitha Radeeshan, Kevin Samarasekera, Lahiru Tillekaratne,Nipuna Yasojana, Kalindu Nandila, Migara Mihishanka, Thulaib Hassen (captain), Lehaan Gunaratne, Yasis Rashmika and Dulan Gunawardena celebrate winning the Bradby Shield after their match against Trinity College at the Royal Complex ground in Colombo yesterday. Pic: Thilak Perera

Trinity College produced one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Bradby at the Royal Sports Complex yesterday, pulling off an incredible 24 points (2 goals, 2 tries) to 13 (1 goal, 1 try, 1 penalty) win in the second Leg of the 75th rugby encounter against Royal College who retained the coveted Shield for a record fifth consecutive year by way of an aggregate of 47-41.

Royal must have heaved a sigh of relief when the final whistle was blown after weathering a ferocious onslaught from the lionhearted Trinitians who came agonizingly close to regaining the precious silverware which has eluded them for the past five years notwithstanding the tied encounter of 2016 where they also won the second Leg 18-13 after having lost the first 22-17.

Trinity had a mountain to climb after their crushing 34-17 loss at Pallekelle a fortnight ago but virtually dominated the first half to enjoy a 12-3 lead and succeeded in wiping out the 17-point deficit. They won the battle in Colombo but lost the war by six points.

Royal looked pedestrian as Trinity attacked in waves phasing out moves with regular frequency to enjoy territorial advantage for much of the game, especially in the first half.

Trinity skipper and full back Reshan Bandaranayake gave an inspiring performance marshalling his troops with his judicial tactical kicks, hurtling himself into attack and being a tower of strength in defence. Half back Nipuna Yasojana stood out for Royal with his services from the base and probing box kicks.

A late tackle early in the game by flanker Dhiren Ratwatte on fly half Kalindu Nandila saw Dulan Gunawardena convert the penalty which went in off the upright for Royal to lead 3-0.

Trinity nearly scored moments later when Harsha Samarasinghe chased a loose ball as Royal floundered under pressure following a poor pass from Yasojana before it was booted away in the nick of time and also survived a five-metre scrum.

But Trinity virtually camped themselves in the Royal half thereafter with Nandila failing to find touch with his exit kicks. However, they were reduced to 14 players when the first of three yellow cards in the game was handed to Trinity winger Amith Kulathunga for a late tackle in the 14th minute. Fortunately it did not prove too costly for Trinity as they phased out attacks, winning even set pieces resulting in Royal’s Nandila being shown the yellow for offside play in the 22nd minute.

Trinity breached Royal’s fortress in the 23rd minute when half back Tehan Karunanayake made a lovely open side break before Ratwatte was driven over the line for their first try which was converted by Minidu Jayasundara.

Fly half Jayasundara himself scored their second try near the posts on the stroke of half time after the ball was spread wide with prop Nimesh Ekanayake barging his way through initially. Jayasundara added the extra points to give them a crucial 12-3 lead at the break.

Trinity unleashed super subs Mecan Yaswanth, Lenox Calyanarathne, Zaiyed Faisal and Koojana Kulathunga after the turn around. Trinity stretched their lead to 17-3 when after winning a rare line-out, number 8 Calyanarathne crashed over the line following a driving maul for an unconverted try.

But Royal hit back in quick succession after Koojana Kulathunga was at the receiving end of a yellow following a TMO review in the 43rd minute.

Hooker Rajindu Jayasuriya went over for a brace of tries within the space of ten minutes being driven over the line by driving mauls with Maleesha Perera converting one of them for Royal to close the gap 13-17.

Trinity attacked relentlessly and were rewarded with a superb try in the 67th minute when Koojana Kulathunga sliced inside after a lovely passes from Bandaranayake. Miranga Subasinghe added the extra points for a 24-13 lead as Royal held on grimly to their precious six-point lead and retained the Bradby.

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