WEEK FOUR OF THE DIALOG SCHOOLS RUGBY LEAGUE
By Nuwangi Gunawardena
Week 4 of the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023 ignited a sensational weekend of rugby, captivating the hearts of enthusiastic fans and supporters. With six highly anticipated matches on the schedule, anticipation ran high as the stage was set for an exhilarating display of skill, determination, and intense rivalries. Throughout the weekend, a palpable sense of excitement permeated the air, as spectators eagerly awaited the unfolding drama and anticipated the outcomes of each thrilling game. From unexpected upsets to fierce battles on the field, Week 4 delivered an enthralling rollercoaster of emotions, leaving players and fans alike breathless with anticipation, celebration, and even some surprises along the way.
Isipathana College Maintains impeccable record with Victory over DS Senanayake College
Isipathana College continued their dominant run in the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023, securing maximum points with a 22-06 victory over DS Senanayake College at Havelock Park. The defending champions displayed their prowess on the field, overpowering their opponents in the second half to secure their fourth consecutive win of the season.
DS Senanayake College, making their return to top-flight schools’ rugby this season, put up a spirited performance and remained within striking distance of Isipathana at halftime. Trailing by only four points, with the score standing at 10-06, DS Senanayake showcased their resilience against the formidable defending champions.
The match began with both teams displaying determination and intensity. Isipathana’s attacking prowess was evident as they secured the first try of the game, while DS Senanayake responded with two penalties, keeping the scoreline close. At halftime, Isipathana held a slender lead of 10-06, leaving the outcome of the match still within reach for DS Senanayake.
However, the second half proved to be a different story. Isipathana College came out with renewed vigor and controlled the proceedings with their dominant play. They showcased their depth and quality by scoring 12 unanswered points, while DS Senanayake struggled to make an impact on the scoreboard.
Isipathana’s relentless pressure eventually paid off, as they secured their fourth try of the game, earning the crucial bonus point. DS Senanayake, on the other hand, failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities and were unable to add any points in the second half.
The victory marked Isipathana College’s perfect start to the season, maintaining their flawless record and claiming the maximum available points. Their strong performance demonstrated why they are the defending champions and solidified their position as one of the top contenders in the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023.
St. Peter’s College Overcomes Trinity College at Pallekele
St. Peter’s College emerged victorious over Trinity College with a final score of 22-10 in their 79th encounter now played for the General Deshamanya Denis Perera trophy. The match, held at the Trinity College Rugby Stadium in Pallekele, showcased the visitors’ resilience and ability to capitalize on scoring opportunities and retained the trophy for a record 6th year.
Trinity College started the game with a bang, scoring a try within the first minute. Capitalizing on a stolen ball from the kickoff, Trinity’s forwards propelled Thenuk Fernando over the try line, catching the Peterites off guard. Fly-half Shan Althaf successfully converted the try, marking Trinity’s first successful conversion of the season and giving them an early 7-0 lead (TCK 07 – 00 SPC).
However, the Peterites swiftly retaliated, capitalizing on a penalty opportunity a few minutes later. Gaining ground with a well-executed kick and a strong lineout, the Peterite prop, Ranidu Ridmal, breached Trinity’s defense line to score a try. Yumeth Shihara successfully converted, levelling the scores within the first 10 minutes (TCK 07 – 07 SPC).
After the initial high-paced exchanges, both teams shifted their focus to a territorial kicking game. Anuhas Kodithuwakku’s delayed kick presented an opportunity for the Peterites, who charged it down and regained possession. With excellent coordination, St. Peter’s orchestrated a well-worked lineout, leading to Sudesh Jayawickrama crossing the try line and giving them the lead. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the Peterites with a 12-7 advantage going into halftime (TCK 07 – 12 SPC).
Early in the second half, Trinity College narrowed the deficit to just two points with a successful penalty kick by Althaf (TCK 10 – 12 SPC). However, the Peterites swiftly responded with a penalty of their own, with Emith Jayaweera adding three points to extend their lead to five (TCK 10 – 15 SPC).
As the game approached its final 10 minutes, Trinity desperately searched for scoring opportunities. Althaf attempted a drop goal, which fell short. Capitalizing on the momentum, St. Peter’s Kushan Tharindu embarked on a powerful run, followed by a remarkable dash from Jayawickrama, evading three Trinity defenders. Although tackled just meters away from the try line, captain Ashen Madugaspe finished the job, extending their lead into double digits. Jayaweera successfully converted the try, sealing a 22-10 victory for St. Peter’s College (TCK 10 – 22 SPC).
While Trinity College showed promise with a strong start to the game, costly blunders such as failing to kick the ball into touch off penalties and loose passing attempts derailed their momentum. In contrast, St. Peter’s displayed composure and focus, capitalizing on scoring opportunities whenever they entered Trinity’s half.
Royal College ‘Tuskers’ stream rolled Zahira College ‘Tankers’
Royal College displayed an exceptional second-half performance, scoring 41 points, as they handed Zahira College a heavy defeat of 44-03 in their Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023 clash at the Royal Complex. The comprehensive victory extended Royal’s winning streak and showcased their dominant form on the rugby field.
The first half witnessed an attacking onslaught from Royal, but Zahira College’s resilient defense held strong, preventing any points from being scored for the first thirteen minutes of the game. However, Royal eventually reaped the rewards of their attacking pressure as Simak Shafeek successfully kicked a penalty, breaking the deadlock (RC 03 – 00 ZC).
Zahira College responded with their own strategy, utilizing a kicking game that caught Royal off guard. Exploiting Royal’s vulnerability near their own try line, Zahira earned an easy penalty within kicking range. Ahamad Saad capitalized on the opportunity, adding three points to Zahira’s tally (RC 03 – 03 ZC).
At halftime, the score remained level, with both teams locked at three points each (RC 03 – 03 ZC).
Royal College emerged revitalized after the break, quickly regaining their lead as Simak Shafeek successfully kicked his second penalty. Building on their momentum, Royal executed a brilliant passing move, resulting in Disas Pathirana scoring the first try of the game (RC 11 – 03 ZC).
The momentum continued to favor Royal as Kavinash Srikanth powered through defenders to score their second try (RC 16 – 03 ZC). Royal’s try-scoring spree persisted as Ayyash Shiyam provided a timely offload to Thanvir Hassen, who crossed the try line under the posts. Shafeek effortlessly added the conversion (RC 23 – 03 ZC).
Charuka Senevirathne secured the bonus point try for Royal, crashing over in the corner, with Nabeel Yahiya successfully converting from a challenging angle (RC 30 – 03 ZC).
During the final minutes of the game, Royal College unleashed a relentless attacking display, scoring two quick tries. Akram Faruk powered over the try line from close range, followed by Disas Pathirana racing through a gap for his second try of the match. Yahiya converted both tries, concluding an impressive second-half performance by the hosts and securing their third consecutive victory (RC 44 – 03 ZC).
Vidyartha College Secures Thrilling Victory Over Rajans in Rugby Encounter
Vidyartha College emerged victorious in a thrilling encounter against Rajans, securing a hard-fought 29-22 win at the Bogambara Stadium last weekend. The match showcased intense competition and standout performances, with Rusith Thamodya playing a pivotal role in Vidyartha’s success, contributing 19 points to the winning tally.
Thamodya’s impressive performance included five penalties and two successful conversions of tries, elevating Vidyartha’s score. Although Rajans scored four tries in the match, they fell short due to Vidyartha’s resilient defense and precise execution.
The match saw its fair share of yellow cards, with both teams receiving penalties. Vidyartha had two players temporarily sidelined, while Rajans had three instances of players being cautioned.
Vidyartha College swiftly took the lead in the match, capitalizing on their opportunities with three early penalties. Rajans retaliated with a converted try by Charuka Jayawardena, narrowing the gap on the scoreboard.
Rajans displayed their attacking prowess, scoring through an Akila Jayasinghe try. Just before halftime, Thamodya successfully converted his fourth penalty, leveling the scores and setting the stage for an exhilarating second half.
After the break, Udeesha Ratnayake touched down for Vidyartha, giving them a 19-12 lead. However, Rajans quickly responded with a try from Nimesha Peiris, cutting the deficit to just two points at 19-17.
Rajans continued to fight valiantly, demonstrating their determination with a superb try by Isuru Bandara. Thamodya’s fifth penalty leveled the scores once again at 22 apiece, setting up a tense final few minutes.
In the closing stages of the game, Vidyartha College showcased their resilience and attacking prowess. Deshan Balasuriya scored the winning try, propelling Vidyartha to a 29-22 lead. Thamodya added the crucial extra two points through a successful conversion, solidifying Vidyartha’s victory.
Referee Gihan Yatawara oversaw the match, ensuring fair play and adherence to the rules throughout the closely contested encounter.
St. Anthony’s College Clinches Thrilling Victory Over Wesley College
In a nail-biting encounter of the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023, St. Anthony’s College emerged triumphant with a narrow 30-29 win over Wesley College at the Royal Complex. The match was filled with drama and intense moments, providing spectators with an exhilarating display of rugby.
Wesley College made a perfect start to the game, utilizing a formidable rolling maul to secure their first try. Hooker Abdullah Siddeek powered over the try line, granting Wesley an early lead. Abdul Haadhi added the extras with a successful conversion (WC 07 – 00 SACK).
St. Anthony’s had several kickable penalties but opted for lineouts instead. However, their plan did not materialize as captain Sahan Keerthisiri eventually chose to kick for points, opening the visitors’ account with an easy penalty in front of the posts. Wesley swiftly responded with a penalty of their own, courtesy of Abdul Haadhi, increasing their lead to 7 points (WC 10 – 03 SACK).
However, the momentum shifted towards St. Anthony’s in the final five minutes of the first half. Captain Keerthisiri and center Ravindu Welagedara orchestrated a brilliant break, creating space for outside center Tyron Mariyadas to score an easy try. Keerthisiri calmly slotted the conversion and later landed a penalty kick, allowing his side to enter halftime with a slender lead (WC 10 – 13 SACK).
Wesley College stormed into the second half, scoring two quick tries. Scrumhalf Kaizer Lye took advantage of a quick tap penalty to score the first try, followed by Chamod Nimsara crashing over for the second try, signaling a strong start for Wesley (WC 22 – 13 SACK).
Undeterred, St. Anthony’s mounted another comeback, similar to their first-half performance. Prop forward Sahan Kothalawala powered through a series of pick-and-goes to score a crucial try, narrowing the deficit to just 2 points. Captain Keerthisiri’s accuracy with the boot was on full display as he successfully converted a remarkable 48-meter penalty, reclaiming the lead as the game approached an exhilarating conclusion (WC 22 – 23 SACK).
The Anthonian Eagles continued their attacking onslaught, with Mohomed Amjath delivering an audacious pass to release Ravindu Welagedara for a try beneath the posts.
Wesley College received a lifeline when St. Anthony’s try-scorer Sahan Kothalawala was red-carded for a dangerous tackle. Wesley opted to go for the corner from the penalty and formed a rolling maul, enabling Abdullah Siddeek to score his second try (WC 29 – 30 SACK).
In a tense finale, Wesley had an opportunity to snatch victory with a penalty kick by Abdul Haadhi. Unfortunately, his kick struck the crossbar, leaving Wesley agonizingly short of securing the win.
St. Joseph’s College Dominates Kingswood
In a commanding display of rugby prowess, St. Joseph’s College emerged victorious with a resounding 48-15 win over Kingswood College in a Week 4 fixture of the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023. The match, held at the Trinity College Rugby Stadium in Pallekele, showcased Joes’ attacking intent as they secured a bonus point victory against a resilient Kingswood side.
Right from the outset, it was evident that Joes meant business, relentlessly pursuing a bonus point win. Naveen Marasinghe, the inspirational captain of Joes, struck early, scoring their first try within the first five minutes. Despite the challenging conversion attempt, Ruchitha Rodrigo failed to secure the extra points.
Joes continued their offensive onslaught, with Bheeshma Jayasekara and Jehan Athukorala playing key roles in their second try, which came in the first 10 minutes. However, Rodrigo once again missed the conversion from a difficult angle.
Shortly after, Vihanga Randeepa executed a cross kick, allowing Randika Dahamjaya to secure Joes’ third try with an impressive display of speed. This time, Rodrigo successfully converted, extending Joes’ lead (SJC 17 – 00 KCK).
Maintaining their aggressive and fast-paced style, Joes swiftly scored their fourth try, securing the crucial bonus point before the 25th minute mark. Shanuka Alahakoon touched down at the left corner, with Rodrigo adding the extra two points (SJC 24 – 00 KCK).
After securing the bonus point, Joes seemed to ease up, providing Kingswood an opportunity to gain momentum. Kingswood capitalized on a penalty, with skipper Imanka Ishara successfully adding three points, putting their first score on the board (SJC 24 – 03 KCK).
Just before halftime, Joes committed a costly error, losing the ball forward near their 22m line. Seizing the opportunity, Kingswood’s skipper, Ishara, kicked the ball towards the try line and masterfully won the footrace, giving his team a much-needed try. Ishara converted the try, reducing the deficit to 14 points at halftime (SJC 24 – 10 KCK).
As the second half began, St. Joseph’s continued their dominance, adding a fifth try through a powerful rolling maul finished off by Chamodh Seneviratne. However, Rodrigo was unable to convert the try.
Joes’ rolling maul strategy proved fruitful once again, leading to their sixth try. Sachinthana Waidyanatha’s strong run set the stage, while Marasinghe’s ability to draw defenders created space for Rodrigo and ultimately Dahamjaya to cross over for the visitors’ sixth try (SJC 34 – 10 KCK).
Even with six tries already on the board, Joes continued to apply pressure, capitalizing on Kingswood’s errors. Ishan Inoon’s yellow card for not rolling away opened up an opportunity, and Joes seized it, scoring another try through skipper Marasinghe. Rodrigo’s successful conversion further extended their lead (SJC 41 – 10 KCK).
Marasinghe’s individual brilliance shone through as he fended off multiple defenders to secure his third try, covering a remarkable 30 meters. Rodrigo added the conversion, completing an impressive 4 out of 8 kicks for him.
Just minutes before the final whistle, Kingswood managed to score a consolation try through Damindu de Silva after a quick tap penalty. However, the conversion was unsuccessful, and the game ended with a total of ten tries, securing a much-needed win for visiting St. Joseph’s College in their Dialog Schools Rugby League campaign (SJC 48 – 15 KCK).
An ugly incident which took place post-match marred not only a peaceful game but the weekend’s thrilling Rugby. A disgruntled Parent of the home side, took the liberty to question the visiting Head Coach, Nilfer Ibrahim after the game concluded as the teams were getting ready to leave the field. The ensuing argument escalated into an assault by the irate parent and his accomplices, against the hapless Head Coach. Though members of the Match Organizing Committee (of the hosts) rushed to the scene to save the Coach and to settle the matter, by then the damage was done as Nilfer Ibrahim who was shaken by the incident was struggling to find his footing. He was later escorted out of the Ground safely and later admitted to Peradeniya Hospital for treatment. It was very unfortunate and also shocking to witness such deplorable behaviours, especially by parents, in front of students (and their son). Schools and the Schools Rugby Association that organize the matches, and the home teams that provide security during the games need to take more stricter actions for the welfare and safety of players, coaches and referees as well as action against Parents and any Old Boys who misbehave. We at Quadrangle take great interest in promoting ‘Spirit of the Game’ among all stakeholders, for which we carry a campaign during this season as we’ve done in the past, and expect schools to take greater interest to promote the same within their fraternity. Our staff photographer at the match captured this incident, but we decided not to publish those shocking images in the best interest of both schools. However, we shared those images with both schools, to identify the culprits and to take proper action, also to avoid such incidents happening in the future.
With each passing week, the Dialog Schools Rugby League gains momentum, fueling the anticipation for a series of exhilarating rugby encounters that lie ahead. As the league progresses, the stage is set for even more enthralling action, featuring intense matches, heated rivalries, and the potential for surprising upsets. Fans and supporters can expect to be on the edge of their seats as the remaining weeks of the tournament promise to deliver captivating moments that will leave a lasting impact. The excitement is palpable as teams gear up to showcase their skills and determination, creating an atmosphere charged with anticipation and a hunger for victory.
All photos of the weekend games are available on the Quadrangle Facebook Page.
Watch our Rugby Show Live with statspert Boa Athu looking back at the games, players and all incidents.