Prediction dangerous– too close to call

73rd Bradby Shield


The Bradby Shield

by Special Sports Correspondent in Kandy

For Trinity, today’s Bradby game has a lot riding on the outcome? Winning it will give them the early confidence and momentum to win back the Bradby which they lost in 2015. Last year, the scores in the two legs were 22-17 (to Royal and 13-18 to Trinity).

This match is part of a double-header. It is akin to killing two birds with one stone. If Trinity wins today, they will be the League champions of 2017. This feat was achieved last in 1987, when Tyrrel Rajapakse’s formidable fifteen beat the blue and gold boys 7-3 and 19-3. The ending of a thirty-year-old wait would no doubt call for the raising of many a glass of champagne.

Trinity have been up-up and away ever since they dumped Wesley unceremoniously by a big margin (64-24) in the opening match. They have been topping the points table for weeks on end. They have been topping the points but not really derailed, by a fighting Peterite outfit, who pulled the rug from under their feet, winning by a mere two points. They shuddered and stuttered but resumed their journey.

Their margins of victory in the second round have been small (five points, to be precise) as the Joes and Isipathana gave as good as they got before finally throwing in the towel. Trinity’s rugby is flamboyant. It is a sight to behold when you see the committed lads bearing down on the opponents goal line.

As opposed to all this, you have the quiet, softly-spoken, almost apologetic Royal coach Sanath Martis. He doesn’t matter too much prior to the game. What is pleasing is that the lads seem to respond to him. Royal’s path to the top did not have the same razzle-dazzle that their opponents had. Most of their early games were decided by a mere five or six points. They have amply compensated for that by winning scores in the thirties against the Thomians and Wesley. The piece de resistance was a staggering decimation of Zahira (65-14).

Martis is not averse to change in the interests of his team. Over the last few years, his main weapon of offence was the Rolling Maul. When under pressure, when in doubt, go for the maul, seemed to be their credits. This season there has been a sea-change. Quite a lot of tries have been the result of back division activity.

Martis explains that last year the back division was largely untried and was still learning the ropes. Twelve months hence, those self-same back are more assertive and try-hungry. They have been given their head. The results have been satisfactory. However, the grape-vine has it that the ‘infamous maul’ has not been wholly abandoned. They will have recourse to it, given the situation and the style of play used by their opponents.

Royal’s back tour of Sabith Feroze, Thulaib Hassan, Janidu Dilshan and Pasindu Fernando have been brutally effective. Feroze has speed and good finishing ability. Centre Dilshan is the eternal optimist, waiting for the chance to pull off an interception. Skipper Askey wears the number-ten Jersey and he seems to be marshalling the backs well. The drop kick is the ace up his sleeve.

Hamza Reeza, the hooker, has made it a point to score, not in ones but in twos and threes. Hirushan, Induwara and Rishmal Fernando have put their shoulders to the wheel and have been of immense help to their team-mates.

Lennox Calyanaratne and Nikhil George have in the course of their careers, played in many positions. Their versatility is indeed a plus point.

Royal is decidedly superior where place-kicking is concerned. Askey is no slouch in this particular department. But full back Mohamed Shaqir has, of late, become the first-choice kicker. He has acquitted himself well in this role. George is another who could do a good job with the kicks. Royal is spoilt for choice, really.

Over to the Trinity equivalent, Lashan Wijesuriya. He has had some success with the kicks. However, Trinity will be hoping for greater consistency with his kicking. Even in the Patana game, it was about fifty percent.

Tragically, Trinity has lost the services of two players. Lock Rishan Madura is out through illness. That devastating centre, Diluksha Dange, who is carrying an injury, will not start. To say that the Lions will sorely miss these two players, is an understatement.

Trinity put up a spirited defence against Isipathna and did not allow their powerful back division to hold sway. Obviously, Raikabula’s charges will be aiming to repeat the performance.

The roving scrum half Anuka Boyagoda is throw back to the likes of Tikiri Marambe, Japana Jayawardena and Hamzil Samad. He can win you a game off his own "bat" as it were. Royal will endeavour to keep him under control and throw a spanner in the works of the smoothly functioning back division.

Samarawickrema, a lock, has had a good season. He could be paired off with Palayangoda, the replacement for Modena. Props Priyankara and Ekanayake do the hard yards and are source of strength to the team. Their work-rate is very high.

In the back division, Kulatunga and Weerakoon are established figures. Navaeen Rajaratnam, the centre, has big books to fill. If he fails, it won’t be for want of trying. The elder Bandaranaike, who plays on the wing, runs at the defence, eager to take them on. The younger Rashen could be used to supplement the kicking department.

That takes the skipper Nathan Yee who plays in the important number-eight position. He may not have touched down many times, but he adds undoubted value to the team. Powerfully built, Yee relishes a challenge and is not the type to back down.

The likely scenario is that Trinity will attack from the start to put points on the board. Royal will guard against conceding too many points too soon. It happens it will be a case of playing catch-up rugby. Trinity is vulnerable when denied space and possession. Given those, they play a vibrant kind of rugby. Royal, on the other hand, will play a more calculated game. They will build brick by brick. They can come back, as they showed against the Zahirians, who had the temerity to lead them at the half-way stage.

Would it be ‘Respice’ or ‘Disce’? I for one, would hate to put my neck on the chopping block. The Bradby has a habit of probing us all. So, let’s sit back and enjoy the untiring efforts of these thirty odd schoolboys. When it’s all over, there will be post-mortems ad nauseam in the bar.

The match will start at 4.30 p.m.


Probable Teams -


Aimantha Hirushan, Hamza Reeza, Rishmal Fernando, Samadhi Induwara, Sasitha Siyath, Nikhil George, Maleesha Madumevan, Lennox Calyanaratne, Nikhil de Silva, Ovin Askey (Capt.), Sabith Feroze, Thulaib Hassan, Janidu Dilshan, Pasindu Fernando and Mohamed Shaqir.

Coach: Sanath Martis


Aveesha Priyankara, Hasiru Weliwatte, Shaveen Ekanayake, Bevishan Wijewickrema, Keshava Palayangoda, Pasan Samarawickrema, Kaneesha Alwis, Nathan Yee (Capt.), Anuka Boyagoda, Lashan Wijesuriya, Amith Kulatunga, Warren Weerakoon, Naveen Rajaratnam, Reshan Bandaranaike and Rashen Bandaranaike.

Coach: Lote Raikabula.

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