It’s Royal by a whisker

By Dinesh Kulatunga
What a match it was! In one of the most thrilling encounters of the Bradby Shield history Royal pipped traditional rivals Trinity to win by a whisker 38 points to 37 in the first leg of the 66th Bradby Shield encounter worked off at the Royal Sports Complex yesterday.
This first leg of the Bradby Shield is also a Schools ‘A’ division encounter. The winners collected their points from three goals one try, three penalties and a drop goal to the Lions’ three goals, two tries and two penalties. The game’s fortunes fluctuated from one end to the other as Royal and Trinity checked each others defences from the first whistle itself.

Royal’s strategy was to keep the play with their heavy set of forwards and they did an excellent job by revelling in rucks and mauls. Their backline too made some penetrative runs which caught Trinity napping. The man who made the difference was Royal’s nippy half back Deen Cassim who made some decisive up and under kicks which tested the Trinity defence frequently for his third row to attack.
On the other hand the Lions have to blame themselves for their downfall. They started the game in brilliant fashion but lost the grip of the game midway as they committed unnecessary mistakes and their defence never looked solid right throughout and was always in disarray.
It was Trinity who scored first in the second minute when winger Akhila Dissanayake crossed over to touch down. Outisde center Kanchana Ramanayake converted. But Royal immediately leveled the scores when winger Tharaka Wijesuriya sliced through to score.

Full back Mushin Faleel converted to make it 7-all. Then Ramanayake who had a brilliant game kicked a 45 meter penalty correctly to give Trinity the lead. Ramanayake again kicked a 35 meter penalty on target to increase the lead to 13-7 in favour of Trinity. But Royal took the lead immediately when outside half Arshad Jamaldeen kicked two penalties correctly and put over a peach of a drop goal and the home team led 16-13. Ramanayake again off a fine back line move brushed several Royal defenders to touch down under the post and converted the try himself to give Trinity a 20-16 lead. But the joy was short-lived as Royal penetrated their defence and of a back line move winger Dilshan Palihakkara touched down. Faleel converted and Royal led 23-20 at the breather.

In the turnaround Royal increased the lead with a 25 meter penalty from Jamaldeen. Then Royal flanker Chilanka Samaraweera touched down from a maul which went unconverted but Royal took a commanding lead of 31-20. At this stage due to a heavy downpour conditions became soggy underfoot and both teams could not handle the wet ball well. Trinity struck twice with tries from winger Mohammed Shesan and inside center Nimesh Yatawara. Ramanayake made one brilliant conversion and missed the other but Trinity took the lead back 32-31.Again the joy was shortlived when Royal hooker Aadil Jabbar crashed through to score. This time Jamaldeen made the conversion and Royal led 38-32. Trinity then clawed back with a fine try by Dissanayake but Ramanayake’s conversion just lacked the distance for Trinity to register a sensational win.

Prior to the commencement of game both teams were introduced to Haren Malwatte, the chief guest for the first leg who captained the Royal XV in 1969. The game was controlled by Irshad Cader.
Royal u18 won the first leg of the Simithriarachchi trophy by 28-15.


Beat Thomians 22-17

Kingswood assured of runner-up spot

By M Naushad Amit
Solid defending in the latter part of the game by Kingwood not only rewarded them with a fine 22-17 win against S. Thomas’ at Mt Lavinia yesterday but also ensured them the league runners-up berth in the President’s Trophy Singer Schools Division I A rugby tournament.
Kingswood who held a comfortable 22-5 lead in the first half did all their scoring in that session and having done their homework held the Thomians from doing their usual second half rally which has been a feature of their play this season.

Kingswood collected their points through three tries, two conversions and a drop goal against S. Thomas’ three tries and a solitary conversion but the home team will have to blame themselves for not adding vital points to their tally which would have made a huge difference to the final result. The match started 15 minutes late over confusion on jerseys worn by both teams which were almost identical.
Kingswood got away to an early 15-nil lead in the first quarter with tries from fly half Lavanga Perera and centre Oshan Perera and a spectacular drop goal in between from skipper Rajitha Sansoni. Lavanga scored the first points in the 11th minute after Sansoni failed to put through a penalty in the 4th minute. Sansoni failed again to add the extra points but he made up with a drop goal in the 20th minute.

Kingswood again took the initiative in the next kick off to score their second try a minute later through Oshan who collected the ball after a good quarter move to touch down under the post to give Sansoni an easy conversion. S. Thomas’ fought back to cut down the deficit to 15-5 in the 26th minute with an unconverted try by centre Anuruddha Vilwara. Kingswood once more got their act together to score a try through winger Indunil Wickramasinghe who side-stepped through the Thomian defense. With Sansoni’s conversion they held the upper hand leading 22-5.

Three minutes after the turnaround Vilwara produced an almost carbon copy of his first half move to score S. Thomas’ second try. Winger Devin Jayasinghe added the extra points to make it 22-12. But the Thomians’ usual game pattern met with some resistance when Kingswood prevented them from making any headway for the next 25 minutes from their own 22.
In the 65th minute S. Thomas’ were awarded with an easy penalty but skipper Rajindra Gunasekera opted for a full out kick which earned them a lineout five yards from the try line. But Kingswood was rock solid in defence and held on. The Thomians had to be satisfied with a consolation try in extra time which came through lock Dinuk de Silva which was not converted. Referee: D Nimal.


Argentinians off to winning start

JOHANNESBURG: A first-half goal by Gabriel Heinze got Argentina’s World Cup finals campaign off to a winning start here on Saturday as they beat Nigeria 1-0 in their Group B clash.

While coach Diego Maradona will be pleased at getting the three points he will be looking to his strikeforce to convert more chances after they missed a hatful here.
World footballer of the year Lionel Messi had been in irresistible form in the first-half as Argentina threatened to overrun the Nigerians.

Only some acrobatic saves from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama prevented Nigeria from going further behind after veteran defender Heinze had scored the opener in the sixth minute.
Messi brought a series of flying saves from Enyeama in the opening 45 minutes as the two-time champions often threatened with their excellent passing and running off the ball.

It was a rasping Messi volley tipped over the bar by Enyeama that indirectly led to the opening goal. From Sebastian Veron’s corner the unmarked Heinze dived in and headed powerfully past Enyeama.
Enyeama, who plays his club football in Israel for Hapoel Tel Aviv, also was called upon to pull off several top class saves in the second-half with two from Messi and also from Gonzalo Higuain, who had wasted two golden chances in the first-half. – [AFP]


Koreans beat Greece 2-0

PORT ELIZABETH: South Korea made an explosive start to their World Cup campaign with a fluent 2-0 win over Greece in their Group B opener on Saturday.
Goals from Lee Jung-soo and captain Park-Ji-sung early in each half gave South Korea only their second World Cup win on foreign soil and left Greece with a massive task to advance from a group that includes Nigeria and Argentina.
The Koreans defended solidly against the ariel threat of the taller Greek players, who bombarded their opponents with lofted passes that yielded few chances for a country that has lost every World Cup game they have played in.
The 2004 European champions struggled against a torrent of South Korean attacks, with European-based duo Cha Du-ri and Park Chu-young proving a handful for the Greek defence.
However, Greece started brightly and could have gone ahead in the third minute when Vassilis Torosidis steered Giorgos Karagounis’s corner past the post.
South Korea, unbeaten in qualifying, always looked dangerous though and punished Greece with slick counter-attacking and neat passing play that left their opponents outnumbered at the back.
They snatched the lead in the seventh minute when Lee Young-pyo’s corner drifted past four defenders into the path of Lee Jung-soo, who steered the ball into the net to spark frenzied celebrations from thousands of travelling Korean fans.
Greece battled to get back into the game but were caught off guard as the three-times Asian champions piled on the pressure and had two penalty appeals turned down. – [Agencies]


The story of the missing Cup

The victorious Sri Lanka cricket team captained by Tillakaratne Dilshan arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport from Zimbabwe on Wednesday and the hierarchy of Sri Lanka Cricket was there to welcome them at the VIP lounge although not on schedule.
The team had arrived after a lengthy 33-hour flight from Harare and was kept waiting for 45 minutes until the SLC officials arrived.
After the customary pats on the back the tired players and team officials parted. The SLC officials returned to their headquarters at Maitland Place but on arrival no one knew what had happened to the Cup. One was questioning the other on the whereabouts of the Micromax Cup which Sri Lanka had won beating Zimbabwe in the final at Harare. The Cup studded with crystal diamonds was said to be worth millions of rupees.
On checking back with the airport authorities, SLC officials were relieved to find that it was safe and sound in the VIP lounge. A car was dispatched by SLC to the airport to recover the lost Cup. So much for SLC efficiency.


France, Uruguay battle out dour draw

CAPE TOWN: Former champions France failed to set the World Cup alight on Friday as they struggled to a 0-0 draw against 10-man Uruguay in an uninspiring start to their campaign. Rarely can a team have arrived at a World Cup with more baggage than France, unsettled by rumoured internal strife and criticised at home for poor form.
They did little to appease their detractors against the South Americans, with neither side able to take the early initiative in Group A after South Africa and Mexico drew 1-1 in the opening match of the tournament.
France coach Raymond Domenech raised a few more eyebrows by leaving not just Thierry Henry on the bench but also Chelsea’s Florent Malouda. – [AFP]


Zahira, Science victorious

Zahira recorded their first victory of the season when they beat St. Benedict’s by 20-17 in a President’s Trophy Singer Schools Division I B match played at Maradana while Science defeated Vidyartha by 21-12 in another match played at Mt. Lavinia.