After suffering a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Isipathana College in the final game of the schools rugby season S.Thomas’ College Mount lavinia began the Milo Knockout competition hungry to end the season with both the sevens crown and the knockout trophy in their cabinet. Initially scheduled to play St.Josephs’ College in the first round the Thomians found themselves facing the up and coming Zahira College after the Josephians decided to withdraw from the competition. Nonetheless the goal remained the same for the school by the sea, in order to advance they had to beat their opponents otherwise that would be the end of what has been an extremely successful season for Thomian rugby.
Despite plying their trade in the second division of schools rugby for the most part of the season the newly promoted Zahira College began the game with the urgency required to beat the quality of opposition they faced. The opening 20 minutes wasn’t the prettiest for the Thomians who missed a few lineout throws and allowed Zahira forwards the room to display their talent. The Thomians who had rung the changes for this fixture electing to rest certain players looked a bit lackadaisical but after 20 minutes of back and forth play the Thomians managed to expose the Zahira defence who were caught off guard by a quick tap allowing Dhanuja Wijeratne to score. Center Herath missed the conversion. 5-0 lead to the Thomians . However it wasn’t total domination by the Thomians afterwards. Having eased the nerves by scoring they backed off and allowed Mohammed Elyas to score with the try being converted Zahira College took a shock lead of 7-5. Many Thomian supporters would tell you they never feared but for the briefest moments a major upset was on the cards. However this was not the case as fatigue may have factored into Zahira Colleges defence as Wijeratne scored twice to clinch a hat trick of tries. The second of which was a display of brute force and skill as he managed to sidestep several defenders to score. Herath converted both to take the score to 19-7 to the Thomians at halftime.
After winning and scoring a penalty early in the second half Zahira College never threatened the Thomians and made the fatal error of allowing the Thomian winger the highest try scorer of the recently concluded schools rugby season Henakankanamage space outwide. He did not disappoint scoring three tries one of which was a 120 metre dash. This effectively took the wind out of the sails of the spirited Zahira players who displayed al lot of heart. At the death of the game once numerous substitutions were made Abheetha Pilapitiya managed to score for the Thomians. Herath managed to convert 4 of the 7 tries scored. Taking the final score to 43-10 to the Thomians.
The score doesn’t accurately reflect the tenacity at which Zahira College contested this fixture. They were the underdogs but for many parts of the game managed to go toe to toe with their opposition. The Thomians on the other hand will be pleased after moving on to the next round where they will face arch rivals Royal College for a chance to play in the final.
By T.A.N De Silva
Courtesy : – STC Media Unit