The Sri Lankan Inter-University Rugby finals were held at Race Course grounds on 9th of September 2018. The first match of the day was between University of Colombo and University of Kelaniya to regain the glory they lost during last week semifinals. Colombo players drew the first blood of the day through Mayura Rathnasooriya’s try within the first 2 minutes. Conversion wasn’t successful. Players of both teams played more aggressively during the play and because of that Kelaniya was awarded a penalty at the 14th minute. Kelaniya seized that opportunity to level the scores.
In 22nd minute, Kelaniya grabbed the ball using a mistake done by Colombo players during the lineout and scored a try to go pass the Colombo. The conversion was succeeded to give a fair lead of 12-05 for Kelaniya. Colombo didn’t take too long to response. In 29th minute they scored a try using a penalty opportunity. The Conversion by M.Chamupathi was very close but couldn’t go through the posts leaving Kelaniya in the lead. During the final minute of the first half Colombo scored a try giving them a 15-12 lead at the half time.
Even though Kelaniya players threatened Colombo players in the first half, Colombo lads got into the ground with a positive mind set in the 2nd half. Within 2 minutes, Madusha Ushan, the skipper carried the ball passing the try line but it was not allowed by the referees. But in 48th minute, they successfully made a try. In the 60th minute, H. Kumara scored a try for University of Colombo. S. Dileepa added the extras to lift the score 27-12. In the dying minutes of the game, Colombo made another try to seal the game for them. University of Colombo won the match by 32-12 to claim the 3rd place of the tournament.
The two qualified finalists (University of Peradeniya and University of Moratuwa) faced each other for the decisive match, the former to defend the championship and the latter to challenge it. As Joe Theismann once correctly elaborated, “Rugby is great. The players don’t wear helmets or padding; they just beat the living daylights out of each other and then go for a beer.” let us see to what length we can relate this to the final match between Pera Lions and Mora Sharks.
University of Peradeniya demonstrated some brilliant playing at the beginning, surpassing the players from University of Moratuwa. H. Ekanayake added a nice try to the first half of the game in favor of University of Pera and the defensive line of the Pera players did not allow any Mora player to penetrate the wall of defense for quite a time. However, T. Lakmal daringly responded to Pera Lions by scoring a splendid try and it was converted by his team mate Anuja Weerakoon, marking the gap of score as (03-07), putting Mora Sharks on lead. H. H. Ekanayake from Pera Lions once again scored another try and a conversion, making the University of Peradeniya dominant in the score board as (10-7). Mora Sharks continued their pressure on Pera Lions by the outstanding efforts for a try by Jayaratne the fullback player, followed by Sachin Nissankarachchi, the skipper and the last try was converted by Anuja Weerakoon. That ended the result of the first Half-Time as (10-19) leaving University of Moratuwa on the lead.
It was apparent that University of Moratuwa had regained their full strength for the second Half and that they had analyzed the playing rhythm of their opponents very well. With a score almost twice ahead compared to Pera Lions, they entered the arena, further motivated by the cheering crowds that were squealing in excitement. They were confident. And they had the resources they needed to establish their legacy.
Particularly, D. Bentharage from Moratuwa initiated bringing the adrenalin to the second Half with an admirable distance-crossing of over 45m and planting a try, which was once again successfully converted by Jayaratne the fullback. Mabulage added more to the bucket, again converted by Jayaratne, rocketing University of Moratuwa to a winning gap of (10-33). In response, Pera Lions managed to narrow down the gap to (17-33) with the commendable try by De Silva which was successfully converted by Ramanayake. Captain of Pera Lions, Sasanka weerakoon, fought to the last bit even in the face of foreseeable defeat and that attempt bore fruit as (24-33). During the last few minutes of the championship match, the Mora Sharks awarded their cheering crowd another one last score through a penalty, which was never to be missed by Jayaratne, and that ascertained the Champions of Inter University Rugby Games 2018.
We take this moment to congratulate the new Champions, University of Moratuwa who showed astonishing colours throughout the tournament, and University of Peradeniya who demonstrated an enormous deal of audacity and brotherhood all the way through. We also make this an opportunity to applaud all the players and coaches who worked quite hard persistently for each team that participated in the Inter University Games 2018.
Article by – Isuru Ranaweera, Isuru Akalanka