Lions taken down in their own den

Close game of 23-22 ends in favour of Royal College

The game of the season is up: the first leg of  the prestigious Bradby Encounter is in Kandy this year. The grounds are filled with vast crowds, some in blue and some in red, each trying to drown out the cheers of the other as the two teams stride to the grounds. There is much glamour and festivity at the Pallekale Rugby Stadium as the most awaited match of the season begins.

It is Trinity with the kick off attempting to place their usual strong opening only to be taken aback by the strong Royal defence. Soon the boys in blue and gold steal the ball to go ahead an pressurize their opponents with some brilliant play at the scrum. The Royalists are giving a hard time for the Trinity defences as they dominate the match for the first ten minutes. An eager crowd watches the Trinity side holding on to their defence despite some strong advances from the Royal forwards. Royal almost makes their way for a try at the 11th minute only to be taken down inches before the try line by the Trinity number 8. It is indeed an intense game as each team keeps turning the tables around in their favour every other minute.

It is the 13th minute. A miss-pass by Royal after a line out costs them an early drawback as Anuka Boyagoda displays some elegant dodging followed by a try just beside the posts. Conversion is successful as Trinity puts their firm foot on Royal with 7-0.

Royal goes on to display some equally promising skill only to be kept down by the strong defence of their opponents. The teams seems to be under much pressure as they keep struggling to make a breakthrough throughout over five minutes just at the Trinity try line. A penalty at the 20th minute give Royal one last opportunity. Ovin Askey grabs the first points for Royal bringing the score to 7-3.

Soon after the 21st minute sees penalty being given to Trinity. Royal is lucky as it is missed. The teams steadies themselves for another attack as they display some exceptional talent with their scrum once again. Just 20m away from the try line Royal is putting more and more pressure on the Trinity defence waiting to make the much needed breakthrough. It all seems in vain as a skilful intercept by Rahul Karunathilake at the 25th minute widens the gap to 12-3. Conversion fails.

The game has totally flipped sides from its beginning with Trinity showcasing much dominance on the field. Yet one would agree that Trinity has had its fair share of fortune in this half unlike their counterparts.

The 30th minute is up. Captain of Royal Side, Banuka Gamage seems to have decided that enough is enough as he makes an adept dodge right past the Trinity midfield to fall down just on the uprights. Easy conversion by Askey follows. Royal has made their come back with 12-10.

The game has turned around once more as Royal holds on to the Trinity half of the ground making attempt after attempt to massacre the opposing defence. The boys from Kandy struggling to hold their defences are successful. Much time is spent before the Trinity try line with Royal struggling to get past those defences. A try should be imminent. It is indeed a half of much misfortune for the Royal side as the whistles go out right after one minute of extra play just as they seem to be feet away from the try line. At half time Trinity is on lead at 12-10.

The break is soon up as Royal starts play. Within seconds the boys from Colombo are at the other end. It is still the 41st minute. A well aimed pass by Gamage lands the ball straight before Shabith Feroze who after some brilliant manoeuvring lands right on the line. Conversion fails. Royal is on the lead for the first time. Score stands at 15-12.

Royal is on their a-game once more dominating the field. 47 minutes to the game sees young fresher, Shabith Feroze making yet another breakthrough on the left end. Covnersion fails. Royal is safe for now with 20-12.

The 54th minute saw another opportunity for Royal as Trinity gave way for a penalty. Askey shines bringing the lead to double figures. Royal seems to have nailed the deal at 23-12.

Trinity still seems to be in the game as their start pushing down the Royal defences. 61st minute sees Royal giving a penalty successfully converted to points by Trinity. Score stands at 23-15.

The 73rd minute sees the final points for the match as Trinity makes their stunning breakthrough to land right between the uprights followed by an easy conversion. It is a close game at 23-22.

The last few minutes see both sides missing a penalty each. One last penalty for Royal again missed ends the game with Royal on a high.

The 1st leg of the Bradby Encounter ends with Royal College emerging victorious at 23-22.

Royal: 23 (1 G; 2 T; 2 P) / Trinity: 22 (2 G; 1 T; 1 P)

For more pictures click here. Also click here for the fan album.