By Nuwangi Gunawardena
The opening weekend of the Dialog Schools Rugby 2023 saw six exhilarating matches from Division 01 (within Group 1A & 2A) St. Anthony’s College hosting St.Joseph’s College at Bogambara, S. Thomas’ College taking on Wesley College in Mount Lavinia, Dharmaraja College meeting Trinity College in Kandy and Royal College clashing with St. Peter’s College at Bambalapitiya. In addition, Vidyratha College hosted Science College at Bogambara and Kingswood College hosted defending Schools Rugby Champions Isipathana College also at Bogambara.
Here’s a look back on the matches from that weekend, played in Colombo and Kandy. We will provide a summary report soon for Division 01 Segment B separately. Please visit our Facebook page for all photo albums.
Antonians Upset Joes in a Thrilling Season Opener
Kandy’s Bogambara Stadium witnessed a jaw-dropping opening fixture of the Dialog Inter Schools Rugby League, as underdogs St. Anthony’s College Kandy staged a remarkable comeback to defeat the formidable St. Joseph’s team by a scoreline of 22-12 on 14th June, kick starting the Schools Rugby League for 2023. The St. Anthony’s squad, driven by an unwavering determination to secure victory, managed to shatter the air of confidence surrounding the St. Joseph’s players.
The hosts accumulated their points through two converted tries, one try, and a penalty, while the St. Joseph’s team responded with one converted try and an additional try. As the halftime whistle blew, St. Joseph’s held a narrow lead of 12 points to 10, leaving the match finely poised for an intense second half.
St. Joseph’s heavily relied on the power and influence of their skipper, the number eight Naveen Marasingha, whose preference was to ground the ball rather than push forward through tackles. However, St. Anthony’s defence marked him tightly, denying him any significant breakthroughs. Meanwhile, captaining St. Anthony’s side, Sahan Kirthisiri delivered an outstanding performance, masterfully controlling the game with his booming kicks and strategic decision-making.
In the early moments of the match, St. Joseph’s had an opportunity to secure three points through a penalty right under the posts. Surprisingly, they opted to kick the ball into touch, only to find themselves pushed back by St. Anthony’s in the ensuing play. Similarly, in the 22nd minute, St. Anthony’s was awarded a penalty right under the posts but chose a scrum instead, ultimately losing possession in open play.
The first try of the match came from Viranga Randhera of St. Joseph’s in the 14th minute, though the conversion was charged down. This allowed St. Joseph’s to take a 5-0 lead. However, in the 20th minute, St. Anthony’s capitalised on a penalty awarded for a breakdown infringement, winning the lineout and enabling Jude Waldano to score. Skipper Sahan Kirthisiri exhibited skill and precision by successfully converting the try from a challenging angle, giving St. Anthony’s a narrow 7-5 lead.
Not to be outdone, St. Joseph’s responded swiftly, with Trehan Athukorala scoring a try in the 27th minute, which was converted to reclaim the lead at 12-7. St. Anthony’s fought back valiantly, with Sahan Kirthisiri adding three points to their tally through a penalty, narrowing the deficit to 12-10 as the halftime whistle echoed through the stadium.
Despite trailing at halftime, the hosts refused to surrender. Seven minutes into the second half, Oshitha Dissanayake soared over the try line, scoring in the corner and extending St. Anthony’s lead to 17-12 after Sahan Kirthisiri’s successful conversion. The Eagles were poised to seize their prey and continued to display resilience, even in the face of adversity, as they received a yellow card and a red card in the second half, reducing their numbers on the field.
Demonstrating unwavering grit and determination, St. Anthony’s struck once more through Roshen Kumara, securing a crucial try that shifted the momentum firmly in their favour. With their lead intact, St. Anthony’s valiantly held off the St. Joseph’s onslaught, denying them any chance of a comeback and ultimately causing a major upset in the party for St. Joseph’s.
The Antonian’s awe-inspiring performance will give them a boost of confidence heading into the upcoming fixtures while St. Joseph’s, though disappointed with the outcome, will look to regroup, analyse their performance, and work towards rectifying any shortcomings. Meanwhile, the result of this thrilling encounter, while undoubtedly having a significant impact on the tournament dynamics, also reminds the fans that in rugby, the underdogs can always rise above the odds and emerge victorious.
Both teams will play their next match on the 24th of June, with St. Anthony’s College facing D.S.Senanayake College at Pallekele, while St.Joesphs take on Wesley College at the Royal Sports Complex.
Vidyartha College Triumphs Over Science College at Bogambara
In a highly anticipated match of the Dialog inter-school rugby tournament, Vidyartha College emerged victorious over Science College by a margin of 26 points to 19. The electrifying fixture took place at Bogambara Stadium on Friday 16th June, captivating the audience with an intense display of skill and determination from both sides.
From the very beginning, it was evident that both Vidyartha College and Science College were prepared to leave no stone unturned in their quest for victory. As soon as referee Kelum Sandaruwan blew the whistle, the players from both teams swiftly took to the field, with each exchange evenly matched, making for a captivating spectacle.
It was Vidyartha College who drew first blood, securing a goal and taking an early lead. However, Science College quickly retaliated with a well-executed try, narrowing the gap and making the score 7-5 in favor of the Kandy school. The Science College players displayed their prowess and determination by scoring a goal soon after, propelling them into the lead with a score of 12-7.
Undeterred by Science College’s surge, Vidyartha College launched a relentless offensive, determined to reclaim its advantage. In the 25th minute of the first half, Vidyartha College successfully secured another goal, propelling themselves ahead with a score of 14-12. This remained the halftime score, setting the stage for an exhilarating second half.
After the break, Science College altered its strategy, aiming to maintain their lead and secure a victory. Their efforts paid off as they scored a goal, extending their advantage to 19-14. However, Vidyartha College refused to be outdone. Displaying remarkable resilience and skill, they mounted a remarkable comeback. With a superb display of teamwork and precision, Vidyartha College executed a series of stunning moves, resulting in another goal and a try. This surge of points propelled them into the lead, securing a well-deserved victory. The final score of 26-19 reflected Vidyartha College’s unwavering determination and their ability to rise to the occasion when it mattered most. In addition to the enthralling senior game, Vidyartha College also showcased its dominance in the junior game, defeating Science College by an impressive margin of 17 points to nil.
The match between Vidyartha College and Science College will undoubtedly be remembered as a thrilling and closely contested encounter. Both teams exhibited outstanding sportsmanship, skill, and dedication to the game. The players’ exceptional performances on the field left spectators in awe and served as a testament to the rich talent pool of school-level rugby in the country.
As the Dialog inter-school rugby tournament progresses, Vidyartha College will surely draw inspiration from their triumph over Science College, while Science College will use this experience as motivation to bounce back stronger in their upcoming fixtures. Rugby enthusiasts and supporters alike eagerly await the next chapter in this exciting tournament, anticipating more exhilarating clashes between talented teams vying for rugby glory
S.Thomas’ College Reclaims Sir Oliver Goonetilleke Shield with Hard-Fought Win against Wesley
In an exhilarating clash at the Big Club Grounds in Mount Lavinia, S. Thomas’ College emerged victorious over Wesley College, clinching a thrilling 19-13 victory in the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023, on Saturday 17th June. The result marked S. Thomas’ College’s reclamation of the prestigious Sir Oliver Goonetilleke Shield after a six-year hiatus.
From the onset, S. Thomas’ College demonstrated their dominance by controlling possession and territory, putting the visiting Wesley College under immense pressure. Yehan Bulathisinghalage set the tone for the Thomians, converting two penalties in the 3rd and 15th minutes, propelling his team to an early 6-0 lead.
Bulathisinghalage’s kicks posed a significant challenge for Wesley College, who struggled to adapt to the windy conditions at the School by the Sea. Exploiting a counterattack from deep within their own half, the Thomians secured the first try of the match through D.A. Senaratne, extending their advantage to 11-0. However, Bulathisinghalage was unable to convert the try into additional points.
With the yellow card shown to Thomians’ No.8 S.D. Fernando, momentum shifted in favour of Wesley College. Capitalising on their numerical advantage, Wesley responded with a try in the 32nd minute, courtesy of Chamodh Nimsara. Abdul Haadhi successfully converted the try, bringing the halftime score to 11-7 in S. Thomas’ favour.
As the second half commenced, Bulathisinghalage added another penalty to S. Thomas’ tally, widening the gap to 14-7. Nevertheless, Haadhi, who endured a challenging first half, redeemed himself by slotting in a penalty in the 49th minute, reducing the deficit to 14-10. Haadhi’s accuracy proved crucial once again as he converted another penalty with 15 minutes remaining, narrowing the gap to a single point (14-13).
In a pivotal moment, Wesley’s Abdulla Siddik received a yellow card, presenting an opportunity for S. Thomas’ College to seize control. The Thomians capitalised on their numerical advantage, with Mohamed Hakeem darting over the try line in the 63rd minute. Despite Bulathsinghalage missing the subsequent conversion, S. Thomas’ extended their lead to 19-13. Determined to hold on to their advantage, the Thomians displayed resolute defence, thwarting Wesley College’s advances in the dying moments of the match.
With this hard-fought victory, S. Thomas’ College reclaimed the Sir Oliver Goonetilleke Shield, firmly etching their name on the prestigious trophy once more. The win signifies the third triumph for S. Thomas’ College since the shield was introduced in 2015, while Wesley College has secured two victories in the series. Notably, the fixture was not contested in 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022, further adding to the significance of this year’s clash.
Dharmaraja Makes History with a Sensational Win over Trinity
In a thrilling encounter at the Bogambara Stadium on Saturday 17th June, Dharmaraja College achieved a historic milestone by defeating Trinity College for the first time in their Schools Rugby history. The match showcased an impressive display of skill, determination, and tactical play, ultimately resulting in a narrow 17-15 victory for Dharmaraja.
From the kickoff, Dharmaraja College demonstrated their intent to dominate the game, immediately applying pressure on the Trinitians. This early aggression paid off when Isuru Bandara spotted a gap near the ruck and darted through it to score the opening try. Sadeesha Weerawansha successfully converted, granting the Rajans an early advantage.
Both teams had their opportunities to score, but failed to capitalise on them during the first half. However, just before halftime, Dharmaraja was awarded a penalty for a tackler not rolling away, and Luchitha Wijayaratne calmly slotted the three points, extending the Rajans’ lead to 10 points at the break.
The second half witnessed a series of errors from both sides, with Trinity College struggling with their lineouts, resulting in five turnovers due to crooked throws. In the 51st minute, Trinity orchestrated a brilliant passage of play from left to right, culminating in Sachindu Wansekara crossing over in the right corner for their first try. Unfortunately, Anuhas Kodithuwakku missed the conversion, leaving a 5-point gap.
Trinity College continued their resurgence as winger Abidh Jameel collected a superb crosskick from Lakindu Herath and powered past a Rajan tackler to score their second try. However, Kodithuwakku once again failed to convert, leaving the scores level at 10-10.
With just four minutes remaining on the clock, Trinity seized the opportunity when Wansekara, who had already scored the first try, displayed incredible athleticism by touching down for Trinity’s third try. Shan Althaf’s conversion attempt hit the upright, denying Trinity vital extra points but giving them a 5-point lead.
Refusing to accept defeat, Dharmaraja launched a final onslaught in search of a decisive try during the last minute of the game. A turnover in Trinity’s territory presented an opening for the Rajans. After five phases, they resorted to a kick and chase strategy. Anoopa Herath’s thunderous tackle forced a Trinity player to lose possession, and Ishara Wijayawardana, the Rajans’ formidable flanker, seized the opportunity, collecting the loose ball and sprinting with exceptional speed to score under the posts. Shehan Rajapaksha converted the try, bringing the score to a thrilling 17-15 in favour of Dharmaraja as the referee blew the final whistle.
Ishara Wijayawardana’s exceptional performance stood out among the Rjans and Trinitians, cementing his pivotal role in Dharmaraja College’s historic victory. Meanwhile, Trinity College must address their shortcomings in lineout and conversions if they aspire to leave a lasting impact in this year’s schools rugby season.
St. Peter’s Upsets Royal to retain B.C. Anghie Cup
St. Peter’s College emerged triumphant in a highly anticipated showdown against Royal College, securing an 11-6 victory at Bambalapitiya on Saturday 17th June. Adding to the excitement, this game also held the significance of being the 76th traditional encounter between the two, now also a trophy match for the prestigious B.C. Anghie Cup.
The encounter commenced with Peterite Yumeth Shihara igniting the atmosphere amidst a jam-packed stadium at Bamba with an attempt at the Goal off a penalty St. Peter’s received at the 50-meter mark. Though conversion was missed St. Peter’s College took early control of the proceedings, displaying dominance on the field. However, Royal College’s resolute defensive efforts prevented the Peterites from converting their early pressure into points.
It was not until the 21st minute that St. Peter’s College broke the deadlock as Yumeth Shihara confidently slotted over a penalty, granting his team a 3-point lead. Despite Royal College having an ideal opportunity to equalise the game, Nabeel Yahiya’s kick from the right upright went wide, leaving the score at 3-0 in favour of St. Peter’s. Royalists made some daring, but sporadic moves with their centre Philio Calyanaratne being outstanding or the one who was looking to break the shackles.
As the first half drew to a close, Royal College deployed their potent weapon, the rolling maul, resulting in the Peterites conceding a penalty due to defensive pressure. However, an unforced error from the Royalists prevented them from capitalising on the opportunity, and the first half concluded with a scoreline of St. Peter’s College 3 – Royal College 0.
After the break, Royal College staged a remarkable resurgence, showcasing greater offensive strength and launching persistent attacks through their forwards. Their initial reliance on the kicking game had failed to yield the desired results in the first 35 minutes.
St. Peter’s College faced a significant setback when flanker Aiden Fernando received a yellow card. Seizing the advantage, Royal College opted to kick for touch and initiate a rolling maul following the penalty. This strategic move paid off as Royal hooker Idris Farouk was propelled over the try line by his teammates, securing the first try of the match and putting Royal College in the lead with a score of 5-3.
In a pivotal moment, St. Peter’s College had an opportunity to score points but captain Ashen Madugasge chose not to pursue it. Unfortunately, this decision proved unfavourable as the planned line-out manoeuvre failed to materialise, resulting in a free kick being awarded to the opposing team. However, a few minutes later, Madugasge redeemed himself by successfully converting a penalty kick, restoring the lead for St. Peter’s College with a score of 6-5 going into the final stage of the match.
As the game hung in the balance, with just 01 point being the difference both sides tried to seal the match in their favour with some desperate moves. Royalists had the advantage, as done in the past, taking the game deep into the Peterite territory with few minutes left expecting their forwards to go for a pushover try or at least win a penalty. But excitement got the better of them as they lost the ball due to an infringement at the breakdown. Peterites capitalized on it and off the penalty they managed to get out of the jail and took the game back into Royal territory during the last passage of play. Off a scrum, inside Royal 22′ Royalists in desperation worked the ball as they knew it was their last run for glory. However with two men to clear, Royal fullback Nabeel Yahiya who joined the line for an overlap missed the pass and former Peterite captain (2022) Sudesh Jayawickrama seized this crucial opportunity and picked up the loose ball and dashed over the try line, igniting the passionate Bambalapitiya crowd with jubilation. Peterites missed the conversion, but they wouldn’t have been concerned with that as Referee Ishanka Abeykoon who controlled the game well blew the final whistle.
With this sensational try St. Peter’s College emerged victorious by 11-5, successfully defending the revered B.C. Anghie Cup and kick starting their season on a winning note with an eye for the League title which has not come to Bambalapitiys since 2010. Meanwhile, Royal College was left to rue the missed opportunities but it’s not all lost for them as former Triple League Champions (2017-2019) they know well how to overcome adversities and be triumphant.
St. Peter’s College will take a break during the 2nd Week of the League and Royal College will be visitors at Ratmalana when Science College host them.
Report on Kingswood College and Isipathana College to follow.
As the dust settles on this captivating weekend, rugby enthusiasts and fans eagerly await future battles, anticipating the thrilling contests in what promises to be a memorable rugby league.
Watch our recap and analysis on the matches and team, as Boa Athu joins the Rugby show on Quadrangle!