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When the Thomians ‘let loose the dogs of war’

A certain chemistry pervades the air whenever Trinity meets the Thomians at rugger.. It may not be on the epic scale of Solomon and Sheba or Samson and Delilah but it is of high velocity all the same and the alchemy makes for outrageously incoceivable moves and double-takes that result in fine gold from the base metal of rugby.

Over the years, ever since the series commenced in 1955 with Trinity led by Mahinda Ratwatte who captained Trinity Boxing and Athletics as well and Ana Kanagasabai who had been my mate in Trinity’s Juniour School, both schools have produced players of spectacular individual skills. In a sweet exchange of courtesies with Ana I played as scrum-half in the inaugural Old Thomians’ rugger match against CR&FC ‘B’ which was captained by C.V. ‘Puggy’ Goonaratne, a game in which Thomian grit and Trinity guts prevailed to go down with bravado 3 - 6.

If I am to pick one from STC I must be given the luxary of two because they hunted as a pair: P.L.Munasinghe and Michael Jayasekera have been the finest combination of threes that scintillated through school, club and country until PL crocked his knee. Gama has said that Michael was his best protege ever “but then, he was gift-wrapped and delivered to me by Quentin.”

From Trinity’s wingers my choice is Prasanna Jayawardena who in 1998 scored four tries against Royal in the 1st Leg of the Bradby and four tries against STC but handed the ball to Meegahakumbura to touch down even though he had crossed the glory line.

Quentin has said that Prasanna was the best winger he had coached. Did he not, together with Denzil, Mediwake and Zamel Mohamed execute the sweetness of a three-quarter maul, never before seen in the country’s rugby, to win the 1st Leg of the Bradby when Maiya had pompously predicted “60 in Colombo, 40 in Kandy”?

But this sultry afternoon at Mount, thirty gallant lads outdid the fury of the sun as they made pendulum swings of the scores until in the final stages, with Trinity visibly short of strength and fitness to last the forty minutes, the Thomians ‘let loose the dogs of war’ and piled on a final score of 26 to 17. Each side could have scored another 15 points had they been more slick at the finish without spilling the ball at the critical second or adhering to the sound advice from the touch line.

Trinity could have played more with their threes and given ball to Akila Dissanayake. Once he even feretted the ball himself from a ruck and dashed many meters before he was brought down and another time Samaranayake tried to do a ‘Gopal’ with an unmarked Dissanayake by his side. [‘Gopal’ is the TCK term for eating alone after Indian Gopal got caught in the tuck shop.

Why did the Trinitians opt to go for ‘hits’ against a heavier and stronger pack? Shannon Armstrong scored runaway try which was complemented by L.U.P.Samaranayake but even though Dissanayake scored a galloping try and was eager to receive ball he was kept starving.

In such a scenario the Thomians never needed to vary their game plan but could have attended to finer points when they received advance information and advice from the touchlines.

The TCK cover defence was non est in the absence of an injured Idris Omar and when they plucked ball from the line-outs there was none to do the ‘cleaning’.

STC put on the board the first score of 5 points within three minutes of play with prop S.David’s push over try and in the 29th minute Arjun Manoharan ran the distance to make it 12 with his own conversion. It was then that Kennan Armstrong got into the act with a fine and powerful dash, side-stepping and jumping over fallen bodies to reduce the half-time score to 12-7 in favour of STC.

In the 6th minute of the turn-around, Akila Dissanayake made a signatured ‘guts and purpose’ run to draw even at 12 - 12 and again TCK’s center Samaranayake’s canter put his side ahead 17 - 12. Galvanised in to action and with TCK wilting, STC’s number 8 Rajindra Gunasekera went over for Manoharan to make it 19 - 17 and in the 25th minute a try by STC’s 2nd rower once again exposed TCK’s feeble defence when he went over the line for Manoharan to be on target and seal the result in STC’s favour 26 - 17 and re-capture the Canon R.S. de Saram shield.

And so we removed ourselves to the OTSC, some to rejoice and others to lick their collective wounds and discuss at length referee Dilroy’s exploits with the whistle.

But the irresistably maintained comfort zone with fine decor and flowing camaraderie were such that a cheery evening was altogether the result with the club President N.L.Perera and his Secretary, Dulip Soysa at hand to ensure the smooth movement of each and every aspect.

One of the pillars of the OTSC was Aelian Jayasekera but he was felled. Now the daily attendance is by veteran Vernie Abeynaike who keeps the torch alight for youth to carry it foward.

Statistically,.31 games have been won by TCK, 20 by STC, 03 drawn and 1 not played in 1971. In 1960, the first time STC won the captains were ‘Baila’ Samarasinghe and Eric Roles.

STC repeated the good fortune on the trot - ‘61 under Tony Sirimanne, ‘62 [draw] uner Tony Sirimanne, ‘63 under Mohan Samarasinghe. Since then, STC won four times on the trot in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

TCK’s highest winning score was 70-08 in 1974 - captain C.Y.Ching [Snr] STC’s highest winning score was 26-17 in 2009 - captain Shaveen Kapuwatte.

Courtesy: DailyNews

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 @ 10:33:44 LKT by

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