A tense battle of the Singer Under 20 Division 1A rugby encounter saw Isipathana and Vidyartha figure out in a thrilling 19 apiece draw at the Royal Sports Complex ground in Reid Avenue yesterday.
However Vidyartha playing in the top division after a lapse of four years took major honours of the game and gave the experienced Isipathana side some anxious moments.
Of course Vidyartha known as the ‘Tigers’ of the hill capital would have been more than satisfied with their performance and would no doubt be one of the sides to be watched this season.
In fact Isipathana threw away their chances of victory missing a crucial conversion and a penalty which from a kickable range in the second half.
Nevertheless the match after a tense battle ended in a fitting way after Isipathana having taken a 14-10 lead at the breather chalked up their points through two goals and a try as against a goal, drop goal and three penalties by Vidyartha.
Vidyartha meant business once referee Irshad Cader gave the green light for the commencement of the game as they put up the first scoring which took as long as 23 minutes culminating through a penalty booted over by scrum half Chamath Fernando.
Thereafter the two sides were locked in a fierce battle but Vidyartha prevailed once again after a ding dong battle for 12 minutes as they surged ahead and increased the lead with flanker Ravindra Upul going over for an under the posts try giving Chamath Fernando an easy kick at goal.
Vidyartha’s lead was short-lived as Ispathana in their usual flamboyant style of rugby got the act together to make notch the first scoring which came off a five metre scrum that ended with an under the posts try by burly No 8 Arun Kumara while scrum half Kavinda de Costa made no mistake with the conversion. Isipathana took the lead with a few minutes from the short whistle when full back Sithum Chathusanka barged his way through a host of Vidyartha defenders. Kavinda added the extra points.
The resumption saw Vidyartha again doing the first scoring with the game just two minutes old when fly half Ashan Bandara in the melee put over a drop goal to reduce the lead 13-14.
The nature of the battle between the two teams from thereon sensed a thrilling finish. Vidyartha who was on their opponents’ territory for a major part of this half was lacking in the ability to finish off the moves. They succeeded to take over the lead through a penalty booted over by Chamath which came after 26 minutes. It was three minutes later that Isipathana missed the crucial penalty, though they made amends in the 35th minute with Arun Kumara going over for his second try. The missed conversion proved to be a telling factor at the end.
Vidyartha on the other hand made good use of the opportunity they got with scrum half Chamath booting over a penalty that was offered in the dying stages of the game to dash hopes of a close Isipathana win.
The officials of the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Association will have to be cautious as the rugby season goes ahead as they will have to watch out for miscreants who through emotion would try to bring disrepute to the game. Likewise supporters of all schools involved in the Singer Schools Rugby tournament would be doing a favour to their school if they behave in a way that will not bring disrepute to their alma mater. In short win or lose let the game of rugger be the winner.
By M Shamil Amith