Last Saturday evening, the more enthusiastic Trinitians in Perth gathered to watch the second leg of the Bradby on big screen. Having done the same for the first leg a couple of weeks ago and having witnessed a poor show by the boys in the red, yellow and blue jerseys, the mood was somber at best. Trinity lost the first leg in a match riddled with mistakes and were 8 points behind. We all knew that coming back from an 8 point deficit was a mammoth task (pun intended) and something that’s never been achieved in the history of the Bradby shield. To top that off, in what looked like the final nail in the coffin, Trinity had lost to Isipathana on the weekend between the two Bradby matches. Royalists being unbeaten so far in the season and sitting comfortably on top of the league table didn’t help matter either.
It looked as if the writing was on the wall. As is customary when any team starts to lose matches, the critics were having a field day of it, some even going so far as calling the Braby first leg the worst Trinity outing this season. I thought the worst Trinity played was against the Anthonians in the season opener. But, Trinity won that exchange, so the critics must have forgotten about it. Despite repeating catch-phrases such as “keep hope alive”, I was also beginning to doubt if the Trinitians could dish out another tour de force performance like they did against (then table leaders) St. Peter’s.
Anyway, getting back to match day; failing to find an online stream for channel eye and realizing that theScore.lk was not showing this match, we settled to watch it on the thePapare.com. Watching the match on Papare was akin to watching porn from a scratched VCD. It was like a detective game where we tried to make out what is happening by looking a series of still pictures. The only redeeming factor about thePapare stream was that they had the score displayed, so at least we knew when one team scored.
For the first 10 minutes of the match we watched in apprehension. Then came a defining moment that I thought set the pace for the rest of the game. Trinity stand-off, Rehan W, booted the ball down the park and the Royal wing-three-quarter collected it. The Trinity open side winger made good ground and made a nice tackle just inside the 5m line; then he stood up and proceeded to drag the tackled player along with the ball to the touch line. This act alone showed that this was by no means the same team that played a couple of weeks ago at Bogambara. This team had a drive and a passion that you’d see from a top international team. They had only one goal – winning theBradby – and they were willing to leave everything in the middle to get it done.
Soon afterwards Trinity scored a penalty followed by a brilliant try off a three quarter move. We breathed a little easier seeing the 8 point advantage evaporate. During this period the star player, playmaker and place kicker for Royal, Jamaldeen, missed a couple of penalty opportunities – easy ones by his usual high standard. Had he scored these, especially the first one – in the fifth minute, it might have been a different story. It was evident that Royal had put all their hopes on their trusty (up till this match) forwards. But, they were driven back by some outstanding fringe defence by the lions and time and again failed to make the gain line.
Midway through the first half Royal were dealt a hefty blow when Jamaldeen was carried off due to injury. His counterpart, Rehan, on the otherhand was having the game of his life and was able to put over another penalty and then an outstanding drop goal. We were now starting to find our voices. The beer and the wine actually started to taste better. Before the half time break a three quarter move saw promising wing Sashan cross over for a try taking the score to 21-0, and we cheered like anything.
On resumption, the Royal pack attempted a comeback but again to no avail. Rehan had remembered to put on the right pair of boots for this leg (pun not intended) and was finding either touch or space at ease. A little into the half Sean Foster crashed over for a score. The TV replay showed that he dropped the ball in the last spilt second, but the ref didn’t pick it up. Luck was definetely on Trinity side. When the Trinity center, Kanil, crossed the line to make the score 33-0, we were over the moon.
For the next twenty minutes or so both sides made many a mistake trying to play a tad too fast. Once Trinity regained composure, Sashan got a chance to show just how good he is by running three quarters of the park virtualy untouched to take the score upto 40. 40! – the most points Trinity ever scored in a Bradby game. The Royalists were able to score a consolation try through captain Shehan in the dying minutes of the match – a well deserved try for all the consistent hard work he put in.
When the full time whistle blew the cheer was deafening. I’m sure the neighbours must have wondered what sort of spelling game we were playing by shouting out letters of the alphabet like lunatics. There was rush to take our pictures with the score as a backdrop and upload it to facebook! We were so thrilled that we sang the college song – maybe the first time it was sung here in Perth. Lucky for us our host had Sri Lankan channels available on a time-delay system. So, we sat down and actually watched the game this time!
The match video can be found at: http://www.thescore.lk/video.php?recordID=49