St.Joseph’s College paralysed their opponents for large chunks of time but on the grounds of a dramatic last gasp try by prop Eroshan De Alwis, Royal College won their Singer inter school under-20 Division I-Group A match 37-34 yesterday at CR&FC grounds, Longden Place.
Rehan Thiyagaraja scored what the whole crowd thought were the defining try at 76 minutes and his conversion-timely one at that considering his radar was awry all evening-meant Joes had their noses infront 34-32 going into the final stretch. That moment would have beyond a shadow of a doubt made his scrapbook if not for the final act of courage by Royal which released them from jail.
Sachin Vihanga railroaded and gained close to 20 minutes and from the offload Wasim Bawa drew ever so nearer. But it was left to Eroshan De Alwis to finish the customary refusal to give up by barging over on the right corner.
Royal were made to look ordinary by the heavy Josephian pack and their cause was not made elementary as their captain and playmaker Arshad Jamaldeen had leave the field due to an injury. That was after he put Royal into an early lead on short notice with a penalty. Joes hit back after continuous carousing in the opponents half when captain Yohan Keyser located a way through to hand his side the lead.
But it was short lived as Alwis-who had a cracker of a game depositing four try’s his account and more importantly to the side-grabbed the lead back two minutes later which Jamaldeen converted. Keyser again played his bulging role to perfection by ramming hard to the Royal wall and breaching it thus making the advantage seem like a pendulum.
Goshen Jackson made next Joes attack to come to fruition when touched down with 18 minutes gone. Trailing by 10-15, Alwis had no intention to let Joes take the game away as his try levelled the score adding more fuel to a frenetic first half. The pyro had just begun though as Dinesh De Silva ripped past three defenders in a storming run just after the restart to regain the lead and just when everyone was relaxed expecting the short whistle Rimze Jamaldeen cruised pass the middle to score under the posts and Damien Ratwattle restored parity to go into the half time all to play for at 22-22.
The physicality of the contest had examples to show as referee brandished yellow cards for both Vishmitha Pieris and Nimshan Jayawardena for high tackles in the first half. Second half started with Josephians camping in the Royal half for nearly 20 minutes and it threatened to be all in vain because of desperate and last ditch tackling from Royal but Keyser again proved to be Joes saviour as he scored to allowing the team of some respite despite possession. Thiyagaraja were off target again which had a huge bearing in the final analysis.
Till this time Joes forwards dominated the game with aplomb but the introduction of Bawa-who was making his first appearance of the season-and Vihanga made a massive difference as the strength and muscle they brought directed altered the play in the way of Royal.
Still Thiyagaraja’s try had the winner written all over it but the unbeaten streak of Royal stretches to 17 league games. Royal were hit hard in this game and there will be bruises to nurse but more than that they would savour the best remedy that came in the form of the result in this topsy-turvy struggle.
The Island Link- Royal Show Fortitude To Prevent Joe’s Bliss
Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi