Dynamic Trinity take wind out of Royal’s unbeaten sails

68th Bradby Shield First Leg


By Chathura Pinnawala

Trinity was smart and quick-witted. Royal unerringly predictable. Had they taken the one or two chances that went begging, Trinity could have been out of sight. Such was the versatility and the quick feet. Still, they took a steadfast step towards retaining the Bradby Shield by winning the first leg comprehensively 34-11 at Royal Complex, Colombo yesterday.

Royal’s reliance on their forwards was as much clear from the amount of times their wingers had the privilege of communicating with the ball while Trinity countered it by spreading the ball at the drop of a hat. The barefaced lie of having the forwards shift into extra time had bankrupt rewards for Royal as knowing it Trinity never shunned the ball around the scrums and at the earliest possible opportunity the ball was either gaining possession or travelling wide.

The match started with the biggest misnomer of the day as Trinity flyhalf Tarinda Ratwatte cleared the ball with a terrible clearance. From then on, he was on a fact-finding mission to set the record straight. His kicks had possession and intent written all over it. He opened the scoring by zipping a drop goal catching everyone by surprise and Trinity continued to hold on to the territory. Royal’s fullback Banuka Gamage joined the attack in the sixth minute and the slipped ball which was kicked ahead by scrum half Sanjaya Somasiri.

Having no defence in sight, winger Dharshana Udalagama raced ahead from tracks to pouch the curving ball and plant it under the post thus giving his vice captain Thisila Karunathilake a ‘warm-up kick.’ Royal had to wait for 15 minutes before Rimze Jamaldeen put over a 30-metre penalty to reduce the deficit to 10-3. Royal line-out was feeble and they had to pay for it as a window to resume close ties in the scores was stopped due to a linear error near the Trinity try line.

By this time Trinity were calling shots and Royal were forced to camp deep inside their yard but Lochana Girihagama spilled the ball when presented with a free run. They were consistently roaming and Royal cracked under pressure to gift another penalty which had Karunathilake in no trouble. But four minutes later, a quick tap and a dash by Eroshan de Alwis pruned the lead to five and the scores read 13-8.

Then referee Irshad Cader had to stop the match due to an object being thrown to the field and after eight minutes of conjecture, play resumed and teams left for half time. Royal dominated the game after the revival but the cutting edge in play seemed to have been left at the training ground. Sending the ball wide was a foreign element and centre Damien Ratwatte’s vertical punts defied justice.

Meanwhile Trinity clanged a golden chance to bolt ahead when Karunathilake speared his way past Royal defence before laying a try for Udalagama. But he preferred to collect the ball thus squandering it when dropping down on it seemed the punter’s option. But they didn’t had to wait long as Ratwatte cut inside to score a superb try and in no time Royal were in the bedlam.

A penalty by Karunathilake hit the post and no one was there to grab it till Udalagama stamped on it to score a thrilling try near the right corner flag. Trinity was not done and was baying for more blood as another lightening fast break resulted in Sanchana Shiek piling more distress on the shell-shocked hosts.

Jamaldeen hit a penalty to take the scores to 34-11 but the faces of the two camps at the end of play told a revealing story. Royal’s unbeaten streak is no more. It had no legs to go beyond 20. And the halt deservedly was orchestrated by a Trinity side that was rollicking on the day.

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