Royal go as favourites but history is against them | Daily News


 

Royal go as favourites but history is against them

Royal College Captain Nikila Gunadheera and Trinity Captain Rahul Karunatilleke

 

Will history repeat itself in the second leg of the 72nd Bradby Shield when third row forward Rahul Karunathilaka’s Trinity College Kandy locks horns with number eight Nikila Gunadheera’s Royal College Colombo at the Trinity Sports Complex in Pallekelle, Kandy today at 4.30 pm

Royal are the firm favourites to win the game and retain the Shield as they are already enjoying the luxury of a five point lead in the bag having won at the Royal Sports Complex in Colombo a fortnight back.

If historical statistics mean anything then the odds are stacked heavily against Royal. Going down memory lane in the history of the Bradby Shield, Trinity have come back and won the Bradby after losing the first leg on four occasions.

In the first ever Bradby Shield encounter in 1945, Trinity led by Robert Sourjah lost the first leg 0/3 to Royal led by C.D.L. Fernando, and came back to take the second leg 6-0 at Bogambara.

The second occasion was in 1962 when Trinity led by Noel Brohier lost to Royal 0-5 in the first leg, but won the return leg beating U.L. Kaluarachchi’s team 9-0 at Bogambara.

Next Athula Unantenne’s Trinity side of 1972 having lost the first leg 8-9, came back to beat Gamini Gunasekera’s Royalists 10-3 at Nittawela.

Finally in 2011 that granite prop forward/hooker Murad Ramzeen did it for Trinity, after losing 25-33 at Bogambara they came back all guns blazing to virtually rout Shehan “Lema” Pathirana’s Royal side by 40 points to 5 at Royal’s own den at Reid Avenue.

Royal has achieved this feat only twice in 1979 and 1998.

Out of the four Trinity teams that have made come backs to win the Bradby, three have done it at home in Kandy and the only time they did it at Colombo was Ramzeen’s boys in 2011.

Now it’s the turn of Rahul Karunathilaka’s boys share a piece of history by turning it around today.

Both teams look equal on paper though Royal should have a slight overall advantage due to having a five point lead. If Royal can adjust themselves to the conditions early in the game, they could always head towards a good lead. Much will depend on how their heavy and mobile pack, which includes two-try hero of the first leg Azmir Fajudeen who occupies the all-important hooker’s berth.

If their halves combination of vice captain Ashok Wijeykumar and Lennox Calyaneratne link effectively, then they should be able to feed the Royal three quarters more often.

Royal College head coach Sanath Martis said, “We are going in to the second leg leading only by five points but we have got all our minor points sorted out after several practice sessions. We will go really hard at the Trinitians and we are definitely going to retain the Bradby.”

At the same time Karunathilaka returning for today’s game (after having to sat out a one match suspension in the first leg) as a third row forward - his presence in the ‘pack’ should make exchanges even in the forwards’ play. Karunathilaka will pair off with Rukshan Dhammapala and Shalindra Alahakoon as the number eight. Trinity over the years, have always produced penetrative back divisions and it is no exception this time.

Sean Wijesinghe the newly appointed head coach of the Trinity College said, “After our loss to Royal in the first leg we were very sad because honestly it was our game. Rahul is a captain and the best player who gets the entire team to rally around him. Today it’s going to be a different ball game as Rahul is back and playing for us leading the team. We are definitely going to win by a very big margin and regain the Bradby.”

Royal have already finalized their team for the big game while Trinity is yet to decide one final slot in the three quarter line up. Vice captain cum fly half Thisila Perera looks a doubtful starter and if he fails to make it, Lashan Wijesuriya would join the rest to form the Trinity ‘line’.

The season’s track record does not matter much in the ‘Bradby’ series. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to have a look at how the two teams have fared.

Royal have won three matches but two of those wins have been close games - 22-17 in the Bradby first leg against Trinity and 17-14 against Wesley. Royal came from behind to pull off an exciting draw against St. Joseph’s (27-27), but their season’s record is enriched with a convincing win against D.S. Senanayake College (36-10). Their only loss is to arch rivals S. Thomas’ 15-21.

In contrast, Trinity too has an almost equally good record, except for that shock 20-23 defeat at the hands of S. Thomas’ College and the first leg loss to Royal in the Bradby. Except for those two surprise losses Trinity has shaped up well this season, winning their remaining three matches. They had two good wins against Wesley 7-5 and St. Joseph’s over 40 points but their rich harvest came in the game against D.S. Senanayake which the Lions won 65-nil.

The Reid Avenue boys are the current custodians of the coveted Bradby Shield. Of the 71 encounters played, Trinity leads with 39 wins to Royal’s 31. The only tie in the series was witnessed in 1992.

Teams:

ROYAL COLLEGE (PROBABLE XV): Ayesh Maduranga, Azmir Fajudeen, Mohamad Nabeel, Ashen Fernando, Harith Lokugamage, Maleesha Madumewan, Pasindu Amarasinghe, Nikila Gunadheera (Captain), Ashok Wijekumar and Lennox Calyaneratne, , Nikil George, Thuleb Hassen, Janidu Dilshan, Andrew de Silva or Shaqir Nawfer , Ovin Askey, Head Coach: Sanath Martis, Asst. Coach: Dushanth Lewke, Kicking coach: T.A.Silva

TRINITY COLLEGE ( PROBABLE XV ): Shaveen Ekanayaka, Kanchana Wimalasiri, Nathan Yee, Aveesha Piyankara, Rishane Madena, Rukshan Dhammapala,Rahul Karunathilaka (Captain), Shalindra Alahakoon, Anuka Boyagoda and Thishila Perera or Lashan Wijesuriya, Geshan Pethiyagoda, Diluksha Dange, Avishka Shiek, Ayesha Edirisinghe, Sanushka Abeywickerema, Head Coach: Sean Wijesinghe , Asst.Coach: Saliya Kumara.

Referee: Aruna Rankothge. – (WAI)

 


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