Petes let off at the Pearly gates

By M. Shamil Amit, Picture by Ranjith Perera.

It was near yet so far for Royal. Likewise it was a narrow escape for the high riding St. Peter’s XV who scraped through to a 22-20 win in a crucial Singer Under 20 Division 1 ‘A’ inter-schools rugby encounter played at the Royal Sports Complex ground at Reid Avenue yesterday.

The winners having led 15-8 at lemons accumulated their points through a goal and three tries as against a goal, two tries and a penalty by the losers. With this win the Peterites succeeded in maintaining their unbeaten record inflicting the first defeat for Royal this season.

Peterites second centre Dhanushka Ranjan who scored three tries going over for his first try watched by the dejected Royal defense.

It was unfortunate for the home team as looking back to their performances in their previous matches it seemed that they had reserved all resources for this important game. But ultimately the Royalists will have to blame themselves for throwing away the match that was theirs.

The Royal pack gave the Peterites a torrid time but it was the forwards that let them down when it mattered the most. Royal dominated the proceedings in both sessions of play but what they lacked was the finish which put paid to their chances.

Though giving the Peterites the lead in the first half the Royalists were in the attack in the process winning the line outs and most of the scrummages but was unlucky by not being able to do the most important aspect of scoring.

It was the Peterites who drew first blood in the third minute with their star player and second centre Dhanushka Ranjan ran through midway for an unconverted try. Royal responded and decreased the lead through a penalty booted over by fly half Arshad Jamaldeen.

Eight minutes later Dhanushka went over for his second try which again the conversion was missed. Wing three quarter Sandun Herath scored a peach of try three minutes later which even shocked the Royal defense when he sprinted over 50 metres following a kick to touch for a try.

But from there on it was Royal all the way as they gave the Peterites some anxious moments They were in their opponents territory for well over 15 minutes before they at last succeeded in punching a hole in the Peterite defense when prop forward Yudith Karunaratne barged his way through a five metre scrum for a try with which referee Dilroy Fernando blew the short whistle.

With a hot tussle in the offing in the second half the resumption saw second centre Dhanushka going over for his third try in the 11th minute with fly half Dulaj Perera this time making no mistake with the conversion which at the end of the game proved to be the vital points for the Peterites.

The Royalists undeterred again went into the attack making sporadic moves which rattled the Peterites. It was the poor ball handling by the Royalist that deprived them from closing the gap when they missed two tries right by dropping the ball close to the try line.

This proved to be the crucial mistake they made. But even so, the Royalists succeeded in planting two tries three minutes apart with full back Mushin Faleel going over for the first and prop forward Yasin Yusuf in the 30th and 33 rd minutes, of the half fly half Arshad Jamaldeen converting one of these.

The Royalists having decreased the lead sent their supporters hay wire having scored a try but it was disallowed as it was a knock on. With time running out for Royal the Peterites managed to earn a penalty which was fluffed by Dulaj before the long whistle was blown.

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