By Chris Dhambarage
The newcomers to the Singer Schools Under-20 Division One League Rugby Tournament Zahira College have commenced their campaign for the title in the most spectacular manner.
On Saturday (25), the lads from Maradana making their first appearance in the top division after a lapse of many years produced a stunning performance to beat the more fancied Science College Mount Lavinia outfit 19-13 at the Air Force Grounds in Ratmalana.
The Zahirians stuck to their basics and played a controlled game from the kick-off as they sealed a very important victory while collecting their points from one goal and four penalties.
Science College of course had a shock start to their curtain raiser match of the tournament as they conceded a try to their opponents very early in the game.
The lads from Mount Lavinia looked very uncomfortable since that setback and they always struggled to get their act together well against a more determined outfit.
Science College will be even more disappointed with the result as they scored a try more than their opponents to collect a bonus point but yet ended up in the losing side.
Nevertheless, this was a splendid all-round performance from Zahira who are certain to provide with more tough moments to their rivals in the upcoming fixtures of the tournament.
No doubt the star player in the Zahira victory was their dynamic place kicker Zahid Sinhawansa who probably enjoyed the match of his life while firing across four neat penalties and also adding the extra points to their solitary try.
Royal vs St. Josephâ€™s
Royal College survived a late scare from St. Josephâ€™s College before recording a hard-fought 28-22 victory in their Singer Schools Under-20 Division One League Rugby Tournament match worked off at the Royal Sports Complex on Saturday (25).
Royal were cruising along towards a more convincing win at one stage after they had built up a commanding 28-5 lead over their opponents mid-way in the second half.
But in a sensational comeback, St. Josephâ€™s surprised their opponents and scored three back-to-back tries as they reduced the deficit to a solitary goal.
However, by that time Royal had done most of the damage to ensure their success as they held their nerves during some exciting final moments to come out victorious.
After having snatched a close 8-5 lead at half time, Royal simply opened out in the second half with their mobile set of forwards causing panic in the St. Josephâ€™s defence.
In fact the Joes did not have any answer to Royalâ€™s typical rolling maul as the home side scored three classic tries to extend their lead beyond their opponents reach.
St. Peterâ€™s vs St. Anthonyâ€™s
St. Peterâ€™s College went through some anxious moments before pulling off an exciting 27-25 victory over St. Anthonyâ€™s College in their Singer Schools Under-20 Division One League Rugby Tournament match played at Bambalapitiya on Saturday (25).
The Peterites also had the satisfaction of retaining the Rectors Trophy as they went on to seal the game while collecting their points from three goals and two penalties.
The Antonians who were trailing 15-24 at half time certainly made a determined effort to stretch their opponents as they responded with two goals, one try and two penalties.
The game turned out to be a battle between the two place kickers of either side and ultimately it was Stephen Sivaraj who steered St. Peterâ€™s to victory by firing across two vital penalties and also converting all three tries.
Antonian fly half Samuel Maduwantha who was the highest pointsâ€™ scorer in last yearâ€™s tournament produced a similar performance with three superb penalties and converting two tries.
Dharmaraja vs Isipathana
Defending champions Isipathana College folded up twice from an early setback to beat Dharmaraja College 18-12 in their Singer Schools Under-20 Division One League Rugby Tournament match worked off at the Bogambara Stadium in Kandy on Sunday (26).
Isipathana were trailing 3-7 at half time and once again they were down 7-12 mid way in the second half but recovered magnificently to seal the game while scoring three tries and a penalty.
The Rajans of course dominated the first half had their chances alive until the final whistle but lacked the finishing touches as they responded with one goal and one try.
No doubt, the wet ground conditions made things really difficult for both teams but the more experienced Isipathana outfit were able to adopt according to the situation and went on to add the finishing touches in style.
Wesley vs Trinity
Trinity College launched their campaign for the Singer Schools Under-20 Division One League title with an impressive 64-24 victory over Wesley College in their opening fixture of the tournament played at Longden Place on Friday (24).
Trinity proved that they mean business from the kick-off and got off to a flying start before ending up scoring three goals and seven tries during a superb exhibition of fast open rugby.
The Wesleyites were never in the game after they had conceded two early tries to their opponents and they eventually ended up scoring two goals and two tries after trailing 17-33 at half time.
S. Thomasâ€™ vs Prince of Wales
S. Thomasâ€™ College Mount Lavinia opened their new season with a rousing 57-0 win over Prince of Wales College in their Singer Schools Under-20 Division One League Rugby Tournament match worked off at Longden Place on Saturday (25).
This was a clinical performance from the Thomians as they warmed-up in style and completely dominating the game while collecting their points from six goals and three tries.
In fact, S. Thomasâ€™ had virtually sealed the game at the half way mark after having built up a commanding 38-0 lead at the breather.
Skipper Naveen Henakankanamge led the way with two early tries and the Thomians never looked back from there onwards as they penetrated the opposition defence at regular intervals.