Spirited Trinity outsmart Royal in Pallekele

Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023


The 1st leg of the 77th Bradby Shield and an important week 6 encounter of the Dialog Schools Rugby League took place at the Trinity College Rugby Stadium in Pallekele between Trinity College and Royal College. The hosts emerged victorious 13-10 to take valuable lead the Bradby.

The game started with both teams trying to go one better early in the game. It was the Lions who received the first opportunity thanks to a penalty but unfortunately, it didn’t go through.  

The visitors received a penalty soon after and decided to gain some territorial advantage with it. After a good kick into touch, Royal won the lineout and their signature rolling maul went all guns blazing deep into the opposition half. After trying to barge through the Trinity defence, the Royalists worked it wide to send Philio Calyanaratne through for the first try of the evening. Simak Shafeek missed the conversion (TCK 00 – 05 RC) 

Trinity College received a 2nd penalty but 16-year-old Shan Althaf went just wide. But you could tell the the youngster was gaining momentum with every kick, something that would prove vital to Trinity’s chances later in the game.

With the visitors yet to get off the mark, Royal managed to put some more pressure on them with a 2nd try, this time from Buwaneka Senanayake. The conversion was once again missed but the lead was already 10 points for the visitors (TCK 00 – 10 RC) 

Just a few minutes before the halftime break, Trinity had another opportunity to add 3 points but Althaf missed it to the disappointment of the home crowd.

Early in the 2nd half, Trinity College almost had their first try. After working the line for a number of phases, Lakindu Herath got over the try line, only to lose control of the ball coming down from a big dive, dropping the ball forward before touching down cleanly. Though the on-field referees felt it was a try, thanks to the availability of TMO in this game, the right decision was made, with replays clearly showing that Herath was not in control of the ball.

Trinity College skipper, Attab Manzil who has had a very ordinary season so far, completely changed his game around to produce some good runs and defences to give the hosts some momentum. Thanks to his newfound energy, the whole Trinity team started to look different and it was quite evident that the home team was calling the shots in this game a few minutes into the 2nd half.  

The next opportunity for Trinity came shortly after the fumble by Herath as they received a penalty just 5 metres away from the whitewash. With Royal having 1 less man as one of their try scorers Senanayake received a yellow card, rather than going for a scrum, the home team opted for the 3 pointer and the young man Althaf finally got the kick right to add first points on the board for Trinity College (TCK 03 – 10 RC) 

The decision of going for the 3 points earlier and then trying to maximise the remaining time on the naughty chair for Senanayake proved to be a masterstroke for the home team as they managed to enter the Royal half and work their way deep into opposition territory. After a lot of  effective ball carrying and multiple phases, Thisanga Dissanayake with the aid of Harith Samaraweera managed to touchdown. Althaf got the conversion right and it was all even at the Pallekele stadium (TCK 10 – 10 RC) 

With time running out, it looked like the game would end as a tie; ultimately it came down to keeping mistakes away until the final whistle, but Duljaya Gamanayake made the costly error of getting isolated amidst a sea of Trinity players as the home team managed to win a penalty in very much kickable distance for Althaf. As soon as Althaf made the connection it looked good and it did go through to give Trinity the lead for the first time in the game. (TCK 13 – 10 RC) 

The drama was not done yet as a few more minutes were still remaining on the clock and Trinity maintained possession until time was up and then inexplicably decided to keep the ball in play. It nearly backfired for them as Royal won a turnover but after working the ball from left to right and right to left and even using the forwards, Royal ran out of ideas and an overcooked pass over the head of their right-wing went into touch as the referee signalled for the final whistle.  

The Trinity College rugby stadium erupted into a chorus of loud cheers as fans of both teams appreciated this emotional rollercoaster of a game. Trinity College who were not given a chance by a majority at the start scripted an epic comeback win after showing a lot of heart to register 5 important points in the league and to take a 3-point advantage into the 2nd leg of the Bradby Shield in Colombo.  

One of the key areas that went wrong for Royal College was the number of penalties they conceded; Royal conceded 13 to Trinity’s 9. For a 16-year-old playing in his first Bradby, the young fly-half Althaf showed a lot of courage and heart for the Lions and was adjudged NDB Bank Player of the Match. 

Trinity College 13 (1T, 1C, 1P) beat Royal College 10 (2T) 

  • NDB Bank Player of the Match :- Shan Althaf (TCK)

Points Breakdown :- 

Trinity College :- Shan Althaf (2P 1C), Thisanga Dissanayake (1T) 

Royal College :- Philion Calyanaratne (1T), Buwaneka Senanayake (1T)