Superior first half helps Royal hang on to retain Gunaratne Trophy


Royal College began with a sense of supremacy and continued to dominate the Thomians at home as the visitors held on to win their Schools Rugby League encounter 17-10 and retain the Michael Gunaratne Trophy for a third year running.

The home team came in with just two changes while Royal made five changes to their run in XV, bringing on the more experienced lads from the get go for this crucial encounter against arch rivals S. Thomas’ College.

Defending champions Royal got off to the best possible start, as they hit the ground running with two early tries within the first 10 minutes of the game to leave the hosts scratching their heads in search of answers.

Five minutes into the game open side flanker Kevin Samarasekara found himself on the edge piercing the Thomian defence as the hosts found themselves cracking under immense pressure.

No sooner from the next restart of the game, Royal College brought about their attacking artillery to splinter through the brittle Thomian defensive wall, scoring their second unconverted try of the game through Yasis Rashmika as the visitors raised to a 10-nil lead. (STC 00-10 RC) 

Royal College dominated as the home team were camped up inside their own half throughout the first stanza, failing to get into the visitors red zone on a single occasion as the first half raced by.

Points dried up after the first 10-minutes, however, the game was evenly poised, even though S. Thomas’ failed to register any score in the first half.

Half Time: S. Thomas’ College 00 trail Royal College 10 (2T)

 Visitors Royal College stormed out of the blocks for the second half in similar fashion to the first, scoring just 4-minutes in to deflate the home team and faithful further as proceedings continued to go against the hosts.

Dulan Gunawardena made no mistake from adjacent to the right hand side upright, notching over his first successful kick off the tee for the evening. (STC 00-17 RC)

 The home team eventually found their groove, managing to string a few phases together and put the lads from Reid Avenue under pressure.

Photo Album  : S.Thomas’ College v Royal College | School Rugby 2019

Jaan De Zoysa pierced the posts from right in front as the pressure was finally turned into points, as the visitors were penalized for a ‘no arm’ tackle. (STC 03-17 RC)

The Thomians continued to build on the three points, stepping on the gas in the final quarter of the game. The Royal discipline folded under pressure as Achintha Radeeshan and Samadhi Induwara both saw yellow 7-minutes apart, depleting the Royal outfit, giving the hosts a chance of a comeback.

Harith Senanayake found himself grounding the ball on the padding to score their first and a vital try in the game as the comeback seemed to be on. Five-eighth De Zoysa added the extras from close range to make it a one score game with 8-minutes left to play. (STC 10-17 RC)

The game was far from over, however, the visitors hung on, defending as if their lives were on the line to secure a famous win away from home against arch rivals and retain the Michael Gunaratne Trophy for a third year in a row.

Full time: S. Thomas’ College 10 (1T 1C 1P) lose to Royal College 17 (3T 1C) Player of the Match: Faahil Adhan (Royal College lock forward)

Points Breakdown:

S. Thomas’ College: Harith Senanayake 1T, Jaan De Zoysa 1C 1P

Royal College: Kevin Samarasekara 1T, Yasis Rashmika 1T, Thulaib Hassan 1T, Dulan Gunawardena 1C