Royal College, Colombo will have a massive edge over Trinity College, Kandy when they scrum down for the second leg of the 74th Bradby Shield rugby encounter at Trinity College grounds in Pallekele, Kandy today commencing 4.00pm.
The junior game for the C. E. Simitharachchi trophy will be played prior to the first XV encounter.
The two teams look almost even but Royal has a massive edge due to having a 32 points lead winning the first leg (39-7) at Royal Complex, Colombo a fortnight back.
Trinity will be making every effort to beat the Royalists in their own den as they are playing in front of their home crowd in Kandy.
The team that takes control of the game within the first 30 minutes as they did in the first leg should hold the key to winning the Bradby Shield.
The outcome of the second leg would mainly depend on how the Trinity three quarters will make use of the good ball. Trinity has always enjoyed the luxury of speedy and penetrative set of three quarters and there is no exception this time too.
If the Trinity forwards could secure the good ball and feed their three quarter line more often, then Royal will face a tough task. In the first leg in Colombo Trinity failed to grab possession and hence their three quarters were kept on cold storage.
Royal has its own strength to give Lions a testing time as they could boast of a mobile eight who will use their heavy forwards to score through the famous rolling maul.
When one talks about the success of Royal forwards, it goes back to that brilliant side of Royal 2015 with their unsung hero (highest try scorer in the league that year) and rolling maul specialist number eight Supun Warnakulasooriya who scored four back to back tries in the second leg at Royal complex.
Experienced wing three quarter and playmaker Sabith Feroze will captain Royal who will make every effort to thrash the Lions in Kandy to retain the Bradby Shield for the fourth consecutive year. But everything will depend on how their granite hard forwards will play today.
Royal has enjoyed a fabulous season this year having won all their matches against Kingswood College Kandy (29-3), St. Anthony’s College Kandy(55-13), S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia (55-nil), St. Joseph’s College Maradana (18-13) and Trinity College Kandy (39-7 Bradby1st leg) in the ongoing 2018 ‘Singer’ league rugby championship.
Royal College head coach (former Royal College rugby vice captain, CR and Sri Lanka national captain) Dushanth Lewke told the ‘Daily News’: “It’s a new game this time around and since we are playing them at their home venue, we are expecting a much tougher match than the first leg.”
Leading Trinity in the 2018 Bradby second leg will be Sri Lanka national under 18 player and full back Avishka Sheik, who is incidentally the son of formidable 1976 Bradby winning Royal College rugby team full back S.E.Sheik.
Trinity had a slightly low record this season in this year’s 2018 ‘Singer’ league, and they have failed to remain unbeaten. Trinity has two wins to their credit winning against arch rivals St.Anthony’s College Kandy (15-11) and S’ Thomas’ College Mount Lavina (34-24), while losing to St.Joseph’s College Colombo (25-32), Kingswood College Kandy (21-23) and Royal in the Bradby 1st leg (7-39).
“It is pouring down rain at Pallekelle today (Friday), so I don’t really know what the ground and weather conditions are going to be when the match commences tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon,” said Lote Raikabula, head coach of Trinity College Kandy and former Fiji and All Blacks seven’s rugby star.
“We highly respect our opponents Royal, and we definitely want to perform better than the first leg in front of our own Trinity crowd.
The boys and the management are very disappointed how we played the game and how the first leg ended in Colombo. We want to put up a really good performance and play better rugby than in Colombo to make our Trinity supporters both young and old happy,” he said.
Of the 73 encounters to-date, Trinity leads with 39 wins to Royal’s 32 and there have been two ties in the series – in 1992 (3-3) and (0-0) in 2016 (22-17) and (13-18).
Over the years, the match has produced many top class Sri Lankan players and traditions that could only be witnessed at the ‘Bradby’ Shield encounter.
Whatever the outcome of the game one guaranteed factor is that the thousands of rugby fans who will fill the Trinity grounds at Pallekelle in Kandy to capacity are assured of a game of fast open rugby.
Ravi Bandaranayake, the captain of Trinity College in 1981, will be the chief guest at today’s second leg.
The match will be refereed by Rohan Fernando.