The first round is over- But the league is still up for grabs

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The first round of the Singer Schools Rugby league 2015 which got stretched a  few times due to Easter, Awurudu and Vesak holidays has now completed. The tournament favourites Isipathana remained unbeaten in the Segment 1A while Royal remained unbeaten in the 1 B segment.

The season started with the All Island sevens in February when the defending unbeaten triple champions Isipathana was dethroned by St.Peter’s College in the cup final 7 points to 5. However the Green Machine kept their hopes alive for the League title by winning all their matches in the first round. 

Their fully charged energizer man Omalka led from the front in every game planting tries after tries. He scored at least two or more tries in every single game topping the current try scorers list with 11 tries.  Pathana’s toughest opponents were St.Joeseph’s and St.Peter’s where both games could have gone either way. However the Greens managed to win those two games to keep their hopes alive for the league. The biggest nightmare for Isipathana this season is their kicking as they only managed to convert 7 tries out of the 32 they scored. That’s only 21% success rate compared to the other unbeaten team in the league – Royal managed to convert 60% of their tries. This will be an important key factor when Omalka and his boys go to the second round if they want to remain unbeaten. 

The battle of the saints took an interesting turn this year for the Joes as they beat their younger brothers from Bamba after 15 years. Even though the Peterites were the clear favourites for this game, the Josephians took advantage of the game as the Peterites were caught napping minus their skipper Kevin (Kutty) Dixon who was taken out due to a concussion in the second half. Tariq Saleh led his troops very well in that game and was the happiest man that evening to take the Basil Weeratunga trophy to Maradana after 1999. The blue -white- blue boys also played their best game against Isipathana this season. Even though they lost that game, they managed to win hearts of the Josephian rugby fans that day at CR.

The Bamba Brigade – St.Peter’s came back strongly after their defeat to Joes in their first game to pip Kingswood with a last minute penalty by their No 10 Sandesh Jayawickrama in Bogambara. They also beat Wesley quite convincingly and lost to the Greens by a whisker while piling up the only century in the current league vs CWW Kannangara last weekend at Bamba. With this win, they also lead the points table with the highest points for the category with 193 points and the highest conversion average of 67% in their group. 

The Randle hill boys Kingswood is not having as good a season as they anticipated this year. Rizah Rafaideen’s gang has so far managed to win only 2 out of 5 games played. However they will remain in the top 8 category in the second round.

The zam zam zacky supporters of the 2013 President Trophy champions Wesley is not getting their monies worth this season as double blues only managed to win one game vs the new comers to the top league CWW Kannangara. Now they are relegated to the Plate championship and might be a top contender for that title.   

The debutants of the Division A’ Rugby- CWW Kannangara players are suffered the heaviest defeats this season when they got thrashed from all the schools. They conceded 378 points and only managed to score two tries and two penalties in the 5 games played. This is also an eye opener about sustainability of players for all the other schools who are making their way to the top division by becoming champions in the lower tier. If you do not have a good junior structure in place, you will end up coming back to the Division B after a year later. 

Royal is having a good season so far and has managed to win all their matches (except Trinity game) without any major hiccups. They thrashed their arch rivals S Thomas’ 52 nil in a game where in the opponent was not given space to figure out what hit them. Banuka and his team staged the best come backs last weekend when they beat the strong Trinitians after trailing 12-3 at one point to take the first leg of the Bradby. This was also the first time that Tuskers tamed the Lions in their own den – Pallakalle in a no quarter given -none asked game.  That beautiful try under the post by Royal skipper Banuka was like a hot knife slicing through butter. However after half time the Royalists looked a totally different outfit. I am pretty sure that Sanath Martis’s thundering earful in the half time would have woken up the Royal 15 to stage their potential in the next 40 minutes. 

Trinity Lions too enjoyed some good wins this season. But losing the Bradby first leg to Royal by one point will be something hard to digest for the Red Army until the second leg is completed. I am sure Isuru Rangala and his coach Miller will have something interesting planned for the second leg (No ! not the Haka) to beat Royal to take the prestigious Bradby.

Science College is having  mix fortunes this season as they almost scared almost both Trinity and Royal in the respective games played in Mount Lavinia and Royal Complex. However the U-18 champions will be eagerly  looking forward to creating some upsets in the second round.

The struggling Thomians came back to Division A’  last year after becoming Division B’  champions in the year 2013. However they are still to make a presence felt in the league. They just managed to survive to be in the top 8 after beating the Anthonian Eagles last weekend in Kandy. They are fairly a young team who are coached by an experienced ex Thomain Jeewan Gunathilleka. I am sure the boys from Mount will have something to show their fans in the second round.

Both teams from the hill capital SACK and Dharmaraja are having one of the worst seasons so far. The Rajans looked a very strong side in the beginning. But the more experienced teams knocked them down in the games quite convincingly.  It’s sad to see one of these teams moving to the B Division next year as one time they won the schools league and knockout championships.

Now.. the Million dollar question.

Who will win the schools League this year?

Will Isipathana remain unbeaten in the second round ?

Can Royal beat the Green Machines? or will Trinity Spoil the Pathana’s league dreams ?

The season is just hotting up……. Stay logged in to the home of rugby www.thepapare.com for all the latest!!