In a dramatic reversal of fortune, Royal (the hunted, a fortnight ago) metamorphosed into the hunter to dominate and outplay Trinity by eight points (a try and a penalty) to nil and win the second by the Bradby at Bogambara yesterday.
Royal may have won the battle, but Trinity won the war as they retained the coveted Bradby shield by a four point margin overall.
This was a different Royal side with a different game plan. After a desultory start by both teams, Royal swung to the offensive with the forwards and backs combining well to keep Trinity pinned to their twenty-two for a good, twenty minutes - Respite came Trinity's way - when they won a penalty 35 yards out and dead centre only for Armstrong to kick it astray.
|Royal playmaker Billal Hassan in action yesterday
Pic by Sanka Widanagamage
Trinity then attacked briefly and a couple of Royal errors followed. Penalised for an off side, prop Mohamed Riazi could not give that early lead to the lions.
Royal's centres Attygala and Ahamed cut through the defence 3 or 4 times but gained only minimal ground. The Trinity defence was granite-hard and unyielding. Had it not been so, the game could well have been decided in the initial half. Skipper Lenaduwa, fed the ball twice, endeavored to scorch through but was well held. Royal returned the compliment in the case of Vishvajith Wijesinghe. Little Hamid, the Trinity Scrum half, made a few darting runs and off one of them play was taken deep into Royal territory. But the Reid Avenue lads came storming back to take play to the opposing 22 with a refreshingly sweeping move.
|The Trinity teenagers exhibiting their proud possession.
( Pic by Sanka Widanagama)
At the break neither side had scored but Royal had deserved more marks for trying.
Magnificent Billal Hassan may have been the hooker but there he was in the thick of almost every Royal move - he broke away time and again, taking the tackles with him. Then he was acting as second full back in defence, and at other moments, he was playing the link-man.
Billal's constant forays finally paid dividends when he put pressure on the Trinity defence and they were penalized for going over the top. Full back Shailendra Chandrasegera converted easily to give his team a 3-0 lead.
Another Trinity move seemed to end in a try when Chandrasegera fell over only to be called back by the referee Dilroy Fernando. This was the disputed try that could have changed the course of the 64th Bradby. Did he err or did he spot a knock on? This was the talking point. Many felt that it was rough justice for Royal.
Billal was the driving force in another daring beak-away that heaped pressure on the Trinity goal line. This time Royal was not to be denied. The ball was swung to the left and Winger Naheel Faizer completed the move by going over first inside the corner flag. Chandrasegera could not add the extra points, but Royal was 8-0 ahead and the Shield was a mere four points away.
Royal had the momentum to launch one final, furious assault on Trinity's line.
A try looked on the cards with but first one defender and three attackers. However a Royal Centre knocked on and that was that.
|A Royal attack thwarted by the Trinity defence
On the run of play, Trinity can have no regrets.
The better side won. But one can never gauge how much the loss to Kingswood had wounded their psyche. Certainly they looked flat and lack-luster at times.
Under 12 Trinity 21 Royal 7
Under 12 (B) Trinity 19 Royal 0
Under 16 Trinity 14 Royal 0
Under 18 C.N. Sumithraarachchi Trophy Royal won 8-0
Was Royal denied of Bradby shield?
The 64th Royal-Trinity second leg Bradby shield encounter at Bogambara had a strange twist yesterday, when referee Dilroy Fernando recalled play back to the Royal territory after their full back Shailendra Chandrasegera had intercepted a Trinity three-quarter move and run down the flank for over 60 metres to plant a try under the posts.
Royal who were trailing by twelve points after losing the first leg in Colombo t 12-24, were 3 points ahead when this incident took place. With the try being scored under the posts an easy conversion would have given Royal a score of 10 points. The subsequent try scored by winger Naheel Faizer in the dying minutes of the game would have given royal a score line of 15-0 which would have been sufficient for them to retain the trophy which they captured last year.
TV commentators who were describing the game were of the view that there was no mistake made by the Royal full back while initiating that breath taking move and the Rupavahini crew re-visited the occasion several times to ascertain if there was a knock-on or a step out, but the expert commentators could not find such an issue.
Finally Royal won the match by 8 points (a try and a penalty) to nil and Trinity regained the custody of the Shield which they surrendered last year.
After the game Referee Dilroy Fernando giving his views on the controversial try said “The TV commentators go by what they see on the screen. But, I was there on the spot and they had clearly failed to capture the real incident. On the first attempt the ball dropped from Shailendra’s hands and he collected only on the second attempt after the ball had hit the ground. I blew the knock-on straight away and there was no question at that moment as most of the players also stopped play with the whistle and as far as I am concerned the move ended right there. I feel that the TV crew has got it all wrong”.