Trinity retain the Bradby

By Rukshan Razak

President Mahinda Rajapaksa presents the Bradby Shield to Trinity Captain Kaneel Seneviratne.

Trinity College manifested a gallant avalanche late in the game to quell all hopes of Royal College in their quest to retain the honours in a 36-20 triumph over the latter in the return leg of the 68th Bradby Shield encounter amid a packed house at Trinity College Rugby Stadium in Pallekele on Saturday.

By virtue of this victory, Trinity improves their Bradby tally with 37 wins against 30 in one of the world’s oldest schools rugby series, which began in 1945.

Trinity, who registered a thumping 34-11 win in Colombo a fortnight ago, entered the fray —cushioned with a 23-point advantage and looked the firm favourites— while the Royalists, who put up a lackluster effort in Colombo in the first leg in contrast, bounced back well to scare the lions at one stage of the 2nd leg in Kandy. Royalists looked intimidating after they led 12-7 at the breather.

Action from the second leg of the Bradby Shield encounter which Trinity College won over Royal in Kandy yesterday. Trinity thus retained the Shield. (Pix by Ms Indu Bandara)

It was rib-bruising rugby at its best with the lead changing hands at regular intervals especially after the turnaround. But Trinity besieged the jaded Royalists in the last quarter of the game when they scored three unanswered tries in the last ten minutes and thus drew the final nails on the coffin of Royalists to retain the coveted silverware for the second consecutive year.

Lions scored their points off four goals and two tries while the lads from Reid Avenue could muster only one goal, two tries and a penalty.

The star of the day for Trinity was their left winger, Dharshana Udalagama who put a dazzling performance scoring three tries in the second half while their diminutive full back Halik Wadood, with two tries, was a sensation for the lions as he rattled the visitors with some scintillating rugby whilst spellbinding his opponents with his dummies, overlaps and interceptions.

Royalists, despite their loss, put up an enhanced performance in their return game and thereby salvaged their pride, giving the monies worth for the spectators for a solid fight-back which places the Bradby Shield encounters on the pedestal.

It was Trinity who opened the account off a try by their winger Lochana Girihagama which was goaled by centre Thisila Karunathilake and the lions led 7-0, but from there onwards, it was the Royalists who dominated the proceedings with a threatening performance and went on to equalise when their lock forward Wazeem Bawa scored mid-left for fly half Arshard Jamaldeen to put over in the 20th minute.

They continued their attack and added five more points off prop forward Eroshan de Alwis shortly before lemons to lead 12-7 at the breather.

After the turnaround, the game progressed with greater intensity and the fortune favoured the brave when Trinity’s Udalagama scored a try following a three quarter move, and as Karunathilake converted, the scores were deadlocked at 12 all. But shortly afterwards, Royal broke the lock off a penalty fired across by Jamaldeen and led 15-12.

But four tries in the last quarter by the Trinity’s star performers, Udalagama (three tries) and Halik Wadood, sunk the Royalists, despite an unconverted try scored by Bawa for Royal, in the interim. Subsequently, it was written off in ‘Red, Gold and Blue’at Pallekele where the lions roared in their own den against some spited Royalists.

An IRB accredited referee Dilroy Fernando did a good job with the whistle epitomising the value of experience and character.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was in attendance to witness the game, presented the Bradby Shield to Trinity skipper Kaneel Seneviratne. The chief guest C. Y. Ching, Captain of the Trinity College rugby football team of 1974, presented the Simithraaratchy Trophy to the Trinity College Unnder-18 captain J. D. J. Perera as the latter’s team triumphed over their opponents by 19-10 having drawn the first leg 12 all.

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