November 29, 2023
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

14-man Antonians edge out Wesley 30-29

A 14-man St. Anthony’s College outfit put up a tremendous performance to edge out Wesley College 30-29 in a thrilling Inter-Schools Under-19 Division One League Rugby Tournament match played at the Royal Sports Complex in Colombo yesterday.

The Antonians, playing their first game in Colombo, suffered a huge blow when they were handed a red card for a dangerous tackle and were forced to play the last 15 minutes of play with 14 players.

But the visitors held their nerve during the tense latter stages despite the setback and went on to record their second win of the tournament while collecting their points from three goals and three penalties.

The Wesleyites, trailing 10-13 at half time, came back magnificently to snatch the lead 22-13 midway in the second half but they lost the momentum somewhat during the last few minutes and ended up with three goals, one try and one penalty.

In fact, the home side drew first blood in the very first minute of play as Abdullah Siddeek barged over to score following a successful rolling maul and Abdul Haadi added the extra points to make it 7-0.

Skipper Sahan Keerthisiri opened the scoring for the Antonians in the 26th minute with a good 25-metre penalty to reduce the margin before Haadi fired across a penalty for Wesley to make it 10-3.

But St. Anthony’s stormed into Wesley territory shortly before the break and were successful in scoring through Tyron Mariyadas while Keerthisiri added the extras and followed up with his second penalty to make it 13-10 at the interval.

After the turnaround, Wesley struck almost immediately as their nippy scrum half Kaiser Lye touched down following a quick short tap, giving Haadi an easy conversion.

The Wesleyites believed they had the game in their bag when they scored a corner flag try in the 43rd minute, which was awarded after a consultation from the assistant referee.

But the Antonians launched a superb counterattack, and they were rewarded for some hard work as prop forward Sahan Kotelawala went over for a push over try.

Keerthisiri made no mistake with the conversion and followed up with a stunning 50-metre penalty to give them the lead 23-22 at that stage.

The Antonians then worked their line from their own territory and after nearly five to six paces Ravindu Welagedera found space in the Wesley defence to touch down under the post. Keerthisiri added the extra points and St. Anthony’s led 30-22 at that point.

But in a bizarre style the Antonians were penalised for a high tackle and Wesley took advantage of the extra player as prop forward Thalha Anas barged over to score their fourth try.

Haadi added the extra points to reduce the deficit to a single point, but the Antonians held on determinedly to play the last few minutes with 14-men and recorded a memorable win.

Chris Dhambarage

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