League title contenders Dharmaraja College, Kandy maintained their title charge on league leader’s Trinity with a smashing 36-24 win over a resolute Wesely outfit in their Singer “A” division league fixture played at Longden place. The win places the Rajans at the top of the table until tomorrow where Trinity would play their traditional rivals St. Anthony’s College.
The Rajans knew that a win was a must to keep their title chances on course so that they could take advantage of any slip ups from their home town rivals. Their ambition was not hidden under any circumstances as they started the better of the two sides. The weslyites were under immense pressure from the first whistle as the visitors unleashed a barrage of attacks via their speedy backs and mobile set of forwards. However poor handling and incorrect decision making prolonged their efforts until the tenth minute when their bulky forward powered his way through mid-left and managed to place the ball right on the line. The conversion by “Mr. Reliable” Thilina Wijesinghe was right on target to give the visitors a 7nil lead. 3 minutes later it was 10nil when Wijesinghe put over a good 35 meter penalty. The game however was a tight one and Wesley managed to keep it that way as against the run of play they entered Rajans territory and scored when their No. O8 Gavin Sigertz barged his way and was tackled just inches away from the try line. Good support by his fellow forwards ensured a try being scored but it went unconverted as Rahul missed from a difficult angle. Spurred by this the home side tried to close the deficit but the cover defense of their opponents stood firm. The superior kicking ability of their skipper Rochana Hettiarachchi and full back Thilina Wijesinghe always made sure they got out of jail when under pressure. The visitors increased their lead to 12 points when they worked their way through the middle and Wijesinghe made a neat punt ahead. The home defense scampering back could not cope with it holding on to the onrushing Rajans attacker which resulted in a penalty try being awarded by Referee Nizam Jamaldeen. The easy conversion was put over and Rajans went into the break with the score board reading 17-5 in favour of them. The large contingent of supporters who had travelled to Colombo too was in high vocals enjoying the fast open rugby their team was diplaying.
The resumption was much anticipated to be a better show by the home side but the Rajans had other ideas on their agenda. Unleashing wave after wave of attack they succeeded in breaching the Wesley defense yet again with a magnificent try. Dharmaraja decided to work their way out of their half and when the ball reached the hands of Wijesinghe, he drew the defense before unleashing his boot, thumping the ball down the park and despite having two defenders chasing it, he switched on his burners thundering past them and managing to add the finishing touches near the corner flag. The conversion was missed by Wijesinghe but it didn’t take any glamour away from his fantastic solo effort. The games fate seemed to be already decided with the Rajans scoring another try putting them in a comfortable 29-05 lead. Wesley took sometime but using their forwards they slowly managed to gain the territorial advantage against their opponents who seemed like running out of steam. Taking advantage of it, they made a remarkable comeback scoring three sensational tries mid-way through the second half to make it 29-24 and close the gap to just 5 points. Hard hitting No.08 Gavin Sigertz was the first to go over when he powered his way through. Second rower Pathum ran through the defense with a barnstorming 30 yard burst to score 5 minutes later. Spurred by this they scored yet again when their Blind side winger added the finishing touches to a sweeping back division move. The momentum was now in the hands of the home side but just as in previous games they showed their inexperience in the big league as they succumbed to a late surge by the visitors.
In contrast to their opponents the Rajans had the services of a leader in the middle in the form of skipper Rochana Hettiarchchi who marshaled his troops well. 5 minutes later Wesley’s seemingly impending comeback was put on hold after Rajans Center Buwaneka Udangamuwa powered his way through the Wesley defense shoving defenders aside and touching down corner flag. Wijesinghe made a stunning conversion to make it 36-24 with less than ten minutes left. Rajans kept the Blues pinned in their own 22 making sure the weslyites were unable to release their threes at will. This was enough as the Rajans held on until the final whistle to record an emphatic win and propel themselves into the top of the summit. They played a really fast paced game using their speedy backs to good effect. Skipper and Fly Half Rochana Hettiarachchi kept everything under control in the middle while Big made Center Buwaneka Udagamuwa always looked menacing with his thundering runs down the middle. But the stand out performer was surely Thilina Wijesinghe as he punished Wesley with his pace and precision kicking. As for Wesley they will have to regroup as they now have suffered three defeats on the trot and will have to come up with a new strategy before next week if they are not to drop down the table. They played well but it was in patches. Their lineouts are something which is to be looked into as they fumbled and lost possession at crucial lineouts which could have even made an impact during the game. As for the league title the stage is set for an exciting finale with Rajans and Trinity set to battle it out for glory during the remaining three games.