EXHILARATING WEEK TWO OF THE DIALOG SCHOOLS RUGBY LEAGUE 2023
By Nuwangi Gunawardena
The second weekend of the Dialog Schools Rugby 2023 saw six matches from Division 01 (within Group 1A & 2A) being played in Colombo and Kandy. On Saturday 24th, St. Anthony’s College hosted D.S.Senanayake College at Pallekele, S. Thomas’ College hosted Isipathana College in Mount Lavinia, Dharmaraja College hosted Zahira College at Bogambara, Science College hosted Royal College at Mt. Lavinia, while Wesley College hosted St. Joseph’s College at Royal College Sports Complex. Then on Sunday, Vidyratha College hosted Trinity College at Bogambara. St. Peter’s College and Kingswood College took a break as they did not have any matches (from Group 1B and 1A).
Here’s a look back on the matches from that weekend. Please visit our Facebook page for all photo albums.
Saturday 24th JUNE
Isipathana Triumphs Over S. Thomas’ College
In a highly anticipated clash between two prominent schools, Isipathana College emerged victorious over S. Thomas’ College in an exhilarating encounter during the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023 week two fixture. The reigning champions showcased their prowess by securing a hard-fought second bonus point win, defeating their formidable opponents with a final score of 29-20. The thrilling match took place at the S. Thomas College Grounds in Mount Lavinia on a memorable Saturday.
The game began on a positive note for the home team as Yehan Bulathsinghalage expertly converted a penalty within the opening three minutes, giving S. Thomas’ College an early lead. However, despite their promising start, the Thomians faced a series of unfavourable decisions that worked in favour of Isipathana College, allowing the reigning champions to take control of the game. At this stage, the scoreboard read 3-0 in favour of Isipathana College.
Isipathana College showcased their attacking prowess and executed a beautifully orchestrated move by their backline to claim their first try of the game. Employing clever loop passes from the centerfield, they bewildered the opposition’s defense, creating an opportunity for Kalindu Silva to touch down in the corner. The successful conversion brought the score to 7-3 in favour of Isipathana College.
Building on their momentum, Isipathana College swiftly secured their second try as Shahid Zumri distributed the ball to Rinesh Silva, who skillfully evade Bulathsinghalage and sprinted towards the touchline. Despite a challenging angle, both tries were converted flawlessly by Silva, extending Isipathana College’s lead to 14-3.
Just before halftime, Silva further bolstered Isipathana College’s advantage by converting a penalty. In contrast, Bulathsinghalage missed an opportunity to narrow the gap by failing to convert an easily attainable penalty for S. Thomas’ College.
The second half commenced with Isipathana College asserting their dominance by scoring two consecutive tries. The first was another impressive display of skill by their backline, initiated by Skipper Naveen Kanishka, who passed the ball to Zumri and subsequently to Hashen Randimal. Randimal navigated through the defense and touched down in the corner. Isipathana College secured a bonus point try shortly after, with Chamath Iroshan carrying the ball over the try line from a rolling maul. Silva’s successful conversions for both tries elevated the score to 29-3 in favour of Isipathana College.
Although the Thomians displayed resilience through their forwards, who valiantly fought to keep their team in the contest, they encountered difficulties with their lineouts. Capitalizing on this weakness, Isipathana College successfully stole numerous lineouts, impeding the progress of the hosts and further solidifying their advantage.
However, in the final 15 minutes, S. Thomas’ College staged an impressive comeback, scoring two tries and mounting a resurgence. During this period, they dominated the game, with Mohommad Hakeem and Shanal Fernando crossing the whitewash. Both tries followed a similar pattern, with the Thomians exhibiting exceptional teamwork and determination as they carried the ball deep into the opposition’s territory, allowing the forwards to ground the ball over the try line.
The full-time score reflected Isipathana College’s hard-fought victory, with the reigning champions emerging triumphant with a final score of 29-20. Rinesh Silva of Isipathana College stole the limelight from both sides, with his outstanding performance and contribution to his team’s victory
Royal College Bounces Back with Resounding Victory over Science College
Meanwhile in another encounter at the Science College Grounds at Mt. Lavinia, Royal College showcased their resilience and determination as they secured a resounding victory over Science College in the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023. Despite losing their opening game, the boys from Reid Avenue displayed their mettle and dominated the match, ultimately triumphing with a convincing scoreline of 45 points to 10.
The game started with high expectations of Royal College’s forwards dominating the early exchanges. However, the home team’s stubborn defensive effort kept them at bay initially. It was Philio Calyaneratne who broke the deadlock for Royal, charging through a gap in the Science defense to score the opening try, with Simak Shafeek successfully converting the extras. (Science College 00 – 07 Royal College)
Royal College continued their attacking onslaught when fly-half Thivain Perera spotted an opportunity on the right side of the field and delivered a precise long cut-out pass to Charuka Senevirathne. Senevirathne exhibited his pace as he sprinted into the right corner to score the second try. Shafeek’s successful conversion from the corner flag extended the visitors’ lead. (Science College 00 – 14 Royal College)
Just before half-time, Science College faced a setback when their scrum half, Anuradha Lakshan, was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge. Capitalizing on the numerical advantage, Royal College capitalized on a rolling maul, with Thineth Gamage touching down from the back of the maul.
At halftime, the scoreboard read Science College 00 – Royal College 19, with Royal College showcasing their attacking prowess with three tries and two successful conversions.
The beginning of the second half witnessed a stop-start affair marred by handling errors from both teams. The game gained intensity when Royal College’s prop forward, Kavinash Ponnuthurei, was yellow-carded for dangerous play. Taking advantage of the situation, Science College opted to kick for points, and Oshada Perera comfortably bisected the uprights to open his team’s account. (Science College 03 – 19 Royal College)
Building on their momentum, the Royal forwards launched a series of pick-and-goes against a struggling Science defense. Idris Farouk powered himself over the line, securing the bonus point try, while Shafeek successfully added the extra two points. (Science College 03 – 26 Royal College)
Science College managed a lightning counter-attack from their own half, with Oshada Perera dazzling the Royal defense with his remarkable run. Perera set up Isuru Pasindu, who crossed the line, injecting hope for the home side. However, Royal College swiftly responded with Duljaya Gamanayaka initiating a counter-attack from his own half, evading three Science defenders and scoring under the posts. (Science College 10 – 33 Royal College)
Royal College continued their onslaught as Disas Pathirana concluded a flowing team move by evading the final defender and touching down for another try. The tries kept pouring in for the boys from Reid Avenue as Thivain Perera cleverly sold a dummy and added the last try of the game, sealing a comprehensive victory for Royal College.
As the final whistle blew, the scoreline displayed Science College 10 (1T, 1C, 1P) – Royal College 45 (7T, 5C), underscoring the dominance and determination exhibited by the visiting team.
Philio Calyaneratne of Royal College was the player of the match for his outstanding performance, which included a crucial try that kickstarted Royal’s momentum.
St. Joseph’s College Secures a Narrow Victory Over Wesley
Over at the Royal Complex, St. Joseph’s College emerged victorious in a rather tame match marked by errors. Both teams aimed to secure their first points in the campaign’s second round, the Joesphians taking a narrow 3-0 (1P) win against Wesley College
Before kick-off, the atmosphere was electric, with fans from both schools anticipating an exhilarating contest. However, the game failed to live up to expectations as it quickly turned into a series of handling errors and unforced mistakes.
Ruchitha Rodrigo opened the scoring for St. Joseph’s College with a successful penalty kick, earning his team a 3-0 lead early in the game. This turned out to be the only points scored throughout the entire match, as both teams struggled to gain momentum.
Wesley College made their way toward the try line through a maul, but the referee deemed them offside due to a premature transfer of the ball before the Josephians engaged in the maul. This ruling denied Wesley College an opportunity to put points on the board.
The first half continued in a similar fashion, with both teams plagued by handling errors and an inability to seize control of the game. Rodrigo had a chance to extend St. Joseph’s College’s lead with a conversion attempt from 48 meters out, but his kick fell short.
The second half mirrored the pattern of the first, as errors continued to dominate the match. Wesley College declined kickable penalties in their pursuit of scoring a try but were repeatedly denied by a resilient St. Joseph’s defense. The Double Blues were unable to breach their opponents’ defense throughout the match, leaving them scoreless at the end of the first half.
In the 57th minute, St. Joseph’s College found themselves reduced to 13 players as hooker Chamod Seneviratne and prop Nithick Rodrigo were both shown yellow cards. Seneviratne was penalized for continuous infringements, while Rodrigo was punished for an undercut tackle during a lineout. However, neither team capitalized on the numerical advantage, and the scoreline remained unchanged during the second half.
Despite Wesley College’s continuous attempts to find a try, they were unable to break through St. Joseph’s College’s defence. Time ran out for the hosts, resulting in a lacklustre victory for the Josephians and leaving them with plenty of areas to address before their crucial encounter against Isipathana in the following week.
Looking ahead, Wesley College will face D. S. Senanayake College in their quest for their first victory of the season.
Ruchitha Rodrigo of St. Joseph’s College as the centre three quarter for his team, played a crucial role in securing the narrow victory and was the stand out player from both sides. Meanwhile Weslyites would feel undone by the reversing of (decisions of) two of their would be tries, they would also rue that they did not convert those crucial penalties which came their way.
Donz Snatch Victory from High-Riding Eagles in Thrilling Encounter
Meanwhile over in the hill country, D. S. Senanayake College emerged triumphant over the home team, St. Anthony’s College, with a narrow 23-19 victory. The intense battle took place at the Trinity College Rugby Stadium in Pallekele, captivating spectators with its twists and turns until the very last minute and Senanayakians appearing in the A Segment for the first time since 2019 made a grand re-entry.
The match started with a tense first 15 minutes, during which both sides struggled to create scoring opportunities. However, it was the Donz winger, Janidu Wijerathna, who broke the deadlock by crossing the try line, giving his team the initial lead. Unfortunately, the fly-half missed the subsequent conversion, leaving the score at 5-0 in favour of D. S. Senanayake College.
Undeterred, the Eagles swiftly responded with a try of their own, courtesy of winger Roshen Kumara, levelling the scores. However, Sahan Keerthisiri’s conversion attempt went astray, leaving the teams deadlocked at 5-5. Just moments before halftime, St. Anthony’s conceded a penalty near their own 22-meter line. Seizing the opportunity, the Donz skipper opted to kick for three points, and Shehanda Umagiliyage delivered a successful kick, allowing D. S. Senanayake College entered the break with an 8-5 lead.
The second half saw the Donz extend their lead as winger Wijerathna displayed his prowess once again, scoring his second try of the match. This time, Umagiliyage converted the try, increasing their advantage to 15-5.
However, the Eagles fought back, with Kumara mirroring Wijerathna’s feat by touching down for his second try. Keerthisiri’s successful conversion reduced the deficit to 15-12, injecting hope back into the St. Anthony’s supporters.
Despite the Eagles’ resurgence, the Donz continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a penalty within kicking distance. Umagiliyage’s accurate kick secured three crucial points, extending D. S. Senanayake College’s lead to 18-12.With only five minutes remaining on the clock, St. Anthony’s Skipper Keerthisiri seized a crucial opportunity, scoring a decisive try and successfully converting it. The crowd erupted in jubilation as the home team took a slender 19-18 lead.
However, in a stunning turn of events, Wijerathna intercepted the ball from the Eagles’ 22-meter line and dashed towards the try line, evading the valiant efforts of Keerthisiri. His try shattered the hopes of the Anthonian supporters, as victory was snatched away from their grasp in the dying moments of the game.
Although the subsequent conversion was unsuccessful, time was against the Eagles, and the final whistle blew, sealing a captivating victory for the Donz and marking their triumphant return to the top tier of the Dialog Schools Rugby League. The final score stood at D. S. Senanayake College 23, St. Anthony’s College 19.
Janidu Wijerathna of D. S. Senanayake College was the stand out player of the Match for his brilliant performance and crucial contributions to his team’s victory.
Zahira College Secures Thrilling Victory against Dharmaraja College
On the other side of Kandy, Bogambara Stadium was filled with excitement and anticipation as Zahira College kicked off their season with a nail-biting 18-15 win over the home team Dharmaraja College. From the very beginning, the match showcased a remarkable display of intensity and competitive spirit that had the spectators on the edge of their seats until the final whistle. Zahira College was making their debut in the Division 01 Segment A, after 2019.
The game started with Dharmaraja College taking the kick-off, but they quickly found themselves penalized in the seventh minute, granting Zahira College an early opportunity to take the lead. The talented full-back Ahamed Saad, known for his precision with the golden boot, expertly converted the penalty kick, giving Zahira a 3-0 advantage.
Exploiting the mistakes made by the Rajans, Saad extended Zahira’s lead in the tenth minute with another successful penalty kick, this time from an impressive 50-meter distance. The scoreboard now read 6-0 in favour of Zahira College, leaving the home team with some catching up to do.
Zahira College continued to dominate the early stages of the game, converting their dominance into points when Saad himself scored a magnificent try in the 20th minute. Starting from the 50-meter line, Saad showcased his speed and agility as he raced past Dharmaraja’s defense to touch down, further widening Zahira’s lead. The score stood at 11-0 in favour of Zahira College.
However, Dharmaraja College refused to back down. It was Akila Jayasinghe who managed to break through Zahira’s defense, scoring a try for the home team. Unfortunately for Dharmaraja, the conversion attempt fell short, leaving Zahira with a slight advantage. The score now read 11-5, with Zahira still in the lead.
Zahira College demonstrated exceptional skills in line-out kicks, strategic moves, and cohesive rolling mauls, effectively utilizing their forward pack to gain ground and maintain momentum. Just before halftime, Zahira capitalized on their strengths, employing a rolling maul and pick-and-go strategy that resulted in prop M. R. Muhammad bulldozed through Dharmaraja’s defense for another try. As the teams headed into halftime, Zahira College held a commanding lead of 18-5.
The start of the second half brought a series of unfortunate events for Dharmaraja College. Their poor play led to Zahira College being awarded a penalty, although the opportunity was missed. To add to their woes, Avindra Wijerathan from Dharmaraja received a yellow card, leaving his team with only 14 players on the field. Undeterred by the setback, the Rajans launched a relentless offensive, exerting immense pressure on Zahira College.
With less than 15 minutes remaining in the match, Dharmaraja College’s efforts finally paid off when Akila Jayasinghe scored his second try of the game, reducing the deficit to 18-10. However, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the home team trailing.Dharmaraja College continued their late resurgence, with Ishara Wijewardana breaking through Zahira’s defense to add another try to the scoreboard. Despite their valiant efforts, the conversion attempt failed, leaving Dharmaraja trailing by a slim margin of 18-15.
As the match approached its climax, Dharmaraja College launched a final assault, coming agonizingly close to scoring a try in the dying minutes. However, Zahira’s exceptional defense prevented their rivals from capitalizing on the opportunity, resulting in a line-out instead. With an electrifying finish, Zahira College emerged victorious, defeating Dharmaraja College with a final score of 18-15.
The match showcased the talent and determination of both teams, providing spectators with an enthralling and memorable encounter. Ahamed Saad, with his impressive performance throughout the game, was the pick of the player from both sides. Zahira College’s thrilling victory sets the stage for an exciting season ahead, while Dharmaraja College can take pride in their spirited performance despite falling short.
Sunday 25th JUNE
Trinity College Triumphs over Vidyartha College
Wrapping up Week 2 of the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023, Trinity College emerged victorious over Vidyartha College at Bogamabara with a final score of 20-10. The match showcased the determination and resilience of both teams as they battled it out on a muddy turf, with Trinity College securing their first win of the season.
Trinity College entered the game with a desperate need for a win, while Vidyartha College aimed to build on their early success. From the start, Trinity demonstrated their attacking prowess, launching numerous attacks. However, it took them 17 minutes to break the deadlock when Manzil found himself in a scoring position, adding the finishing touch to Trinity’s hard work. Unfortunately, Shan failed to convert the try, leaving the score at 5-0 in favour of Trinity College.
The muddy conditions and handling errors posed challenges for both teams, leading to a scrappy phase of the game. Shan had a couple of opportunities to extend Trinity’s lead but was unsuccessful. However, Vidyartha College found themselves reduced to 14 players after illegally bringing down a rolling maul. Seizing the opportunity, Trinity College opted for a lineout and created a driving maul toward the Vidyartha line. The maul was illegally brought down, resulting in the referee awarding a penalty try to Trinity College. The seven points from the penalty try gave Trinity a man advantage and a 12-point lead heading into halftime.
At the start of the second half, Trinity’s forwards continued their dominance, immersing themselves in the action. Despite the challenging conditions, both teams focused on keeping the ball close to their forwards. Trinity’s hooker, Dehan Watagoda, crashed his way over the try line on the far side, extending their lead and creating a comfortable cushion between the teams. However, Shan was unable to convert the try, leaving the score at 17-0 in favour of Trinity College.
Motivated by the deficit, Vidyartha College launched a spirited comeback, reminiscent of their performance in the previous week. The home team managed to score two tries back-to-back, with Deshan Balasooriya making a significant impact on the wing. Both conversions attempts hit the posts, leaving Vidyartha in need of a converted try to level the score. With the game on a knife’s edge, Trinity’s five-eight Shan Altaf sealed the victory in the 67th minute by slotting over a penalty kick. Vidyartha’s tiring defense was caught offside in front of the posts, allowing Trinity to secure a 10-point lead.
As the final whistle blew, Trinity College celebrated its hard-fought victory, securing its first points in the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023.
As the curtain falls on Week 2 of the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023 rugby fans eagerly await future battles, anticipating the thrilling contests in what promises to be an exciting season ahead.
Watch our Rugby Show for the roundup and highlights of the week 2.