Review by Muhammed Jameel and Rehan Anandakumar (Web Content Team)
The highly anticipated clash between Trinity College and Dharmaraja College Rugby Teams unfolded on June 17, 2023, at the Bogambara Stadium, Kandy. The atmosphere was electric as players and fans gathered, expecting light rain but instead being greeted by delightful weather. Adding to the excitement was the presence of Fazil Marija, a prominent Sri Lankan Union player, who had been leading Trinity as their coach for over six months.
The game kicked off with tension and intensity as the Rajans made a strong start, putting pressure on the Trinitians. This allowed the Rajans to exploit gaps in Trinity’s defense and score the opening try of the season, successfully converting it. However, Trinity refused to surrender easily, making quick adjustments to strengthen their defense, creating an uphill battle for both teams. Despite numerous scoring opportunities, both sides struggled to convert their chances. In the dying minutes of the first half, a penalty was awarded to the Rajans due to a Trinity tackler not rolling away, leading to an easy conversion and a score of 00-10 in favor of Dharmaraja. Both teams went into halftime hoping for a game-changing turnaround.
At halftime, the score stood at 00 – 10, with Dharmaraja College in the lead.
Following a disappointing first half, Fazil Marija’s magic seemed to have worked on the Trinity team as they had a blazing start in the second half. Anuhas Kodithuwakku kicked off the proceedings with determination.
Trinity gained territorial advantage after a successful line-out throw, with Anuhas Kodithuwakku evading multiple defenders. However, they couldn’t convert this opportunity into a try. But fortune favored Trinity when a Rajans’ player received a yellow card, opening the door for Trinity’s first try of the game. Sachindu Wansekara executed a beautiful tactic, diving into the far corner of the try line in the 50th minute. Unfortunately, the conversion from Anuhas Kodithuwakku was off target. The score now stood at TCK (Trinity College) 05 – DRCK (Dharmaraja College) 10.
Trinity’s resilience shone through as they formed a brilliant rolling maul just 10 meters short of the try line. With a series of “pick and goes,” they steadily approached the desired goal. The ball emerged from the ruck, reaching the hands of Shan Althaf, who took a daring risk by kicking the ball across the field. Abidh Jameel was perfectly positioned to dive for the try line, securing Trinity’s second try of the game. However, once again, the conversion was unsuccessful.
Not even 10 minutes later, a poor 22-meter drop-out by the Rajans proved costly as Trinity capitalized on it. Exploiting the blind side, Trinity surged forward with the ball. Sachindu Wanasekara showcased exceptional speed, sprinting all the way to the try line and securing Trinity’s third try, his second of the game. Unfortunately, the conversion was once again missed.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Rajans reclaimed possession from the kickoff and executed a beautiful chip kick. Trinity, unable to hold on to the ball, watched in despair as the Rajans stole it and dived under the posts for the final try of the evening. The conversion was successfully made.
The final score read 15 – 17 in favour of Dharmaraja College, sealing their victory.
Dharmaraja College’s historic win over Trinity College in this fiercely contested encounter will be remembered as a significant moment in rugby history. Despite Trinity’s spirited comeback, the Rajans showcased resilience and skill to secure the hard-fought victory.
NDB Player of the Match – Ishara Wijayawardana (DRCK)
Trinity College: Sachindu Wansekara 2T, Abidh Jameel 1T
Dharmaraja College: Isuru Bandara 1T, Ishara Wijayawardana 1T, Sadeesha Weerawansha 1C, Luchitha Wijayaratna 1P, Shehan Rajapaksha 1C.
Dharmaraja College celebrated a well-deserved triumph, marking their first-ever win against Trinity. Their excellent performance and unwavering spirit proved decisive. The Trinitians, on the other hand, must reflect on this defeat, utilizing it as motivation to regroup and strive for success throughout the remainder of the season.
With an eventful and thrilling conclusion to week 1 of Sri Lanka Schools’ Rugby, spectators eagerly anticipate the forthcoming matches, which are bound to deliver more excitement and fierce competition.
Photographs by the Trinity College Media Unit