Thomians struck by Double Blue lightning
Wesley College managed to scrape past the Thomians in a tense encounter of the Singer Schools Rugby League played for the Sir Oliver Goonathilake memorial shield. The late surge by STC was not enough as the Double Blues won 26 points to 24 to end the first round on a high.
Thomian Ovin Hettiarachchi kicked off proceedings of this stop start affair which contained abundant handling errors and penalties from either side. Almost the entire first half was played inside the Thomian red zone, with many penalties given away by STC. In the 10th minute, Wesley’s lock forward, Raveen Fernando barged his way over the whitewash to get the first points of the encounter on the board. Fly half Tharindu Walpitage missed the conversion from a difficult angle. (WC 05-00 STC)
STC were clearly playing on the back foot after the restart and Wesley were once again able to hold on to possession for a number of phases. Line out after line out, possession kept switching between the sides before the dashing flanker Srhitheysh Thawaraja scored a brilliant try in the left corner for the Double Blues. Once again Walpitage missed the conversion. (WC 10-00 STC)
STC found some momentum after continuous penalties were given away by Wesley and managed to find themselves at the 5m line in the last minute of the first half. Lashandra De Silva joined the rolling maul after throwing in and scored, giving STC some points before half time. Ovin converted the kick with ease.
Half time - WC 10 (2T) - STC 07 (1T 1C)
Soon after the restart STC were once again put on the back foot as Dunal Fernando had to sit out 10 minutes in the naughty chair for infringements at the breakdown. Walpitage pointed towards the posts and his kick was successful this time. (WC 13-07 STC)
Wesley College, having the numerical advantage, hit back in the 43rd minute with Thawaraja scoring his second try of the day and Walpitage made no mistake with the conversion. (WC 20-07 STC).
The Thomians seemed to have lost the plot and in the 47th minute Wesley were awarded another penalty. Walpitage cleared it with ease to put them ahead by 16. (WC 23-07 STC)
The absence of their key player Jaan De Zoysa clearly showed as S. Thomas’ couldn't find touch on numerous occasions. However, they were lucky to get continuous penalties and Dunal Fernando returned when the Thomians were only 10m away from the Wesley try line.
Wesley went down to 14 men in the 57th minute as the double try scorer Thawaraja was sin-binned. Rehan Olugala made the most of it and scored for the home team to cut the deficit. Chamud missed conversion. (WC 23-12 STC)
Walpitage converted his third penalty in front of the posts as the Wesleyites looked to be running away with the game (WC 26-12 STC) but soon after the restart, their prop forward Jeesa Wijegunawardhena was sin binned, bringing the Double Blues down to 13 men.
Thomas’ took full advantage once again as Aaquib Cader scored from the back of the rolling maul, signaling their intent. Unfortunately, Chamud missed the conversion once again. (WC 26-17 STC)
The Thomians huffed and puffed but the strong Wesley 14-man defence, with Thawaraja back in, managed to push back the big Thomian forwards who were going for the pick and go. Phase after phase went by until Thomian Shenuk Perera powered his way over the whitewash but despite Thevin Eeriyagama converting this time, referee Ishanka Abeykoon blew the long whistle and Wesley pulled off a nail-biting win to claim the shield for another year running.
Full time - WC 26 (3T 1C 3P) - STC 24 (4T 2C)
Referee- Ishanka Abeykoon
ThePapare.com Player of the Match - Tharindu Walpitage
Wesley College - Tries by Srhitheysh Thawaraja (2) and Raveen Fernando Conversions - Tharindu Walpitage (1) Penalties - Tharindu Walpitage(3) Yellow cards - Sritheysh Thawaraja and Jeesa Wijegunawardhena
S. Thomas' College - Lashandra De Silva, Rehan Olugala, Aaquib Cader and Shenuk Perera Conversions - Ovin Hettiarachchi (1) and Thevin Eeriyagama (1) Yellow cards - Dunal Fernando