Hockey – The 21st Annual Royal-Thomian Hockey Encounter

Royal-Thomian encounters have always been the highlight of any sport and sportsman’s career at both these schools as the rivalry between the two schools extend beyond the institutions with large audiences from all around Colombo gathering to see the Blues face off.

The 21st Annual Royal-Thomian Hockey encounter played for the Orville Abeynaike Memorial Trophy, honouring an Old Thomian and distinguished former Thomian Hockey coach, the late Mr Orville Abeynaike took place on Saturday, the 17th of September 2022 at the AstroTurf. The Chief Guest for the evening was Mr. Amitha Abeynaike, who is the son of Mr. Orville Abeynaike, and himself a College Prefect and Hockey coloursman of College. The U-19 match followed three others, The U-16 Royal-Thomian hockey encounter which ended in a 3-2 win for the Thomians, the Over 35 encounter that concluded in a 2-2 draw, and the Old Boys match which the Royalists were able to win 3-2.

The 1st XI game began with the Thomians in possession of the ball. However, after not too long the Royalists were able to gain control of the ball, but only to lose it a short while later. As both sides were determined to take home the trophy they put on an impressive fight to hold on to the ball. With the ball switching sides neither team had it for long enough to make a crucial move. Nevertheless, the Thomians switched strategy and started keeping control of the ball.

They played in the Royal half which created several chances for the Thomians resulting in the Captain, Abdullah Iflal, assisting the Man of the Match, Joshua David, to score a goal putting the Thomians in the lead from the first half itself. This splendid hit saw a nervous opposition playing it quick and far, making long passes as the Royalists tried to score a goal as fast as possible to get back in the game. However, this was their downfall as there was no one ready to receive the long passes of the Royalists. This gave the Thomian defence an opportunity to gain control of the ball and move it onto the other side of the turf. Despite their lead the Thomians kept playing on the offensive eager to increase their score. As a result, the Royalists were forced to play on the defensive and were not able to generate a counter attack effective enough to equalise.

The Thomians maintained possession of the ball in attempts to increase their lead but an impressive defence put on by Royal kept the Thomians at bay and succeeded in not conceding another goal. Well, into the third quarter we still saw both sides hopeful to net a goal but each were unable to do so. The match reached its climatic point in the fourth quarter as the pressure piled on the Royalists to equalise leading them to play a slightly more careless game. It was also evident that the Thomians were desperate not to lose the lead in the last few minutes of the game with the fear of a Royal counter attack which threatened to equalise the scores, the former kept playing high and offensive but failed to break through the Royal defence.

The match ended with the first half scores of 1-0 as both sides were committed not to concede a goal at the conclusion of the match. The Thomian goalkeeper, T. Darius was awarded the Best Goalkeeper award and the Thomian Goal scorer Joshua David was awarded Man of The Match for giving the Thomians the win and bringing home the Orville Abeynaike trophy.