S. Thomas’ College cruised to an emphatic win over traditional rivals Royal College in the 1st leg of the Royal-Thomian Water Polo encounter played for the prestigious R.L. Hayman trophy at the Sugathadasa Stadium today.
Royal College started off with aplomb in what was a brilliant opening period for the boys in the Golden caps, who didn’t feature talisman Savinda Dissanayake from the get-go due to tactical reasons.
Royal dominated possession in the early exchanges, but the Reid Avenue side failed to turn those chances into goals. This inspired S. Thomas’ as the lads from Mount took the lead against the run of play through Isura Kahandawala. The Thomians doubled their lead shortly after through yet another smart piece of play, this time by skipper Shakya Goonatillake who scored from distance.
Royal College, whose influence on the game was waning at this point, did pull one back through Senith Samaranayake’s smart lob over Dilith Kumarasinghe in the Thomian goal, but there was no time for any more goals in the first quarter.
Royal seemed stunned by the Thomian defensive performance in the first half, but it was what happened down at the other end that really decided the game.
S. Thomas‘ stormed into a commanding 4-1 lead through a quickfire double by Kahandawala early in the 2nd quarter and they then expertly held off their opponents till the latter part of the quarter. With the opposition tiring, the Thomians converted a penalty, again through Kahandawala, to make it 5-1 before rounding off the half with another goal to give themselves an unassailable lead.
Half Time : STC 6 – 1 RC
Royal came into the game with many labeling them as one of the better teams in the recent years but the team from the nationals failed to show up in the first half.
Coming into the second half, Royal started with intent, playing far more aggressively while moving the ball quicker through the water. The Thomians were unable to contain this pressure and as a result, conceded a penalty, which skipper Yakoob conceded with no problem.
Everything seemed to be falling in place for a historic comeback for Royal as they looked like a completely different side to the one from the first half. Savinda Dissanayake, the big man everyone was looking out for also got in on the act as he scored thanks to some improved service from his teammates.
Pushing on for more goals, Royal were unlucky to be denied by a combination of the frame of the goal and also some poor shots which were directed straight at Thomian custodian Kumarasinghe. They were soon punished at the opposite end however as their attacking intentions left them bare at the back, which allowed Shannon Ebenezer to swim through the middle and finish off an easy chance.
The Ebenezer goal took the wind out of Royal’s sails and Basith Yakoob’s team were once again at square one, having to build up from the start. They continued to work hard for the win with coach Bilal Hassen ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at the game, but Royal’s final push was cancelled out by Manula Wickramaratne, whose well-deserved goal left the 4th quarter tied at 1-1.
Thus, S. Thomas go into the second leg with a very health 4-goal lead and the knowledge that only on one occassion has a first leg deficit been overturned in Hayman history.
Full Time : STC 8 – 4 RC
- 1st Quarter – STC 2 – 1 RC
- 2nd Quarter – STC 4 – 0 RC
- 3rd Quarter – STC 2 – 1 RC
- 4th Quarter – STC 1 – 1 RC