Survival Of The Fittest-68th Bradby Shield First Leg Preview

John Lennon wrote ‘I Am The Walrus’ as a mock tribute to the public who tried to discover meanings of his other works of art. It has a simple message. Trying to over-analyse things is akin to neglecting the heart of the matter. This evidence is ever-prevalent when it comes to the Bradby Shield.
When Royal College hosts their traditional rivals Trinity College at Royal Complex, Colombo today, the previous conduct will have small weight. Both teams are equally good and whoever lasts the distance with the least scars could prove to be the victors. The league title hinges considerably in the outcome of this match with both sides at loggerheads about the title after a long time. Royal can clinch their third league title in four years with a victory and a defeat to St.Peter’s while Trinity could lay claim to the prize that has eluded them for sometime if they win both remaining matches. The league would be the last name in the minds knowing the importance of Bradby, the players would volunteer for a short term memory loss.
Both sides are in supreme form as Royal are continuing their merry ways in the league having reached the 20th mile post against St.Peter’s and Trinity having just one reversal against the adversaries of Royal last week. This chain of 20 wins doesn’t include the torment of the last year’s second leg though where Murad Ramzeen’s side forged a remarkable fight back to regain the shield thus lengthening the series lead to 36-30.
This year Trinity is led by the center Kaneel Seneviratne while the additional cushion in leadership is provided by the other center Thisila Karunathilake who is also the place-kicker having an articulate radar. Their forwards consist of Dhuli Samarakoon, Anuradha Karunathilake and Mohammed Insaf who have been regular starters while powerful Randhika Alwis along with Tushan Dharmasena are the locks. Ryle Madena controls the set-pieces at No8 and Umesh Samarasekara and Mohammed Singhalakshana does the flanker duites. Wingers Dharshana Udalagama and Lochana Girihagama have had a direct impact in the rich vein of form Trinity is in and Haliq Wadood mans the last line of defence.
Coach Nilfer Ibrahim is thriving on the prospect of being the postman in delivering the goods. He’s looking to retain and add one more to the already impressive niche he has drawn at Trinity. He says “I think we have a great chance of winning not only the Bradby but the league as well. We just had one bad game against St.Peter’s and on that day their place-kicker was in top form. We may not have heavy forwards like Royal do but our lads have been on the button this season. Last year we won the President’s trophy as well so we are on the right path.”
And he reckons the rather unspoiled fact of their halves-pair-Sanjaya Somasiri and Tharinda Ratwatte-‘s performance on the day could be vital to their chances. “We have a set game plan and especially if the scrum half and flyhalf has a good game, no one can stop us.”
Royal on the other hand is celebrated in their forwards play which was in free exhibition last week. Two props Eroshan De Alwis and Lahiru Pavithra, Second-rowers Wasim Bawa and Yasoon Weerasooriya, two flankers Andrew Siriwardena and Sachin Vihanga all had a game to remember and hooker Shuayb Muthalip’s throws were accurate. Madusha Kularatne will wear the No8 jersey while captain Arshad Jamaldeen resumes the friendship with Ravishan Dassanayake who is on the middle of a consistent season.
“I am very confident that if all fifteen of our players play to their potential the result will be in our favour. The challenge is to maintain the standards.” says Royal coach Bilal Yusuf. There are doubts whether the tactics they adopted against St.Peter’s would have the desired results this week but Yusuf acknowledges the importance of trusting what has worked.
“It’s a matter of focussing on our strengths, rather than over analyse the opposition. What’s good for us, if that’s what works for us we’ll continue to do that. We’ll change our strategies if there’s a need but if the formula is working i don’t see a reason to alter it.”
Trinity has the edge in the three-quarter duties compared to the Royal but Yusuf reiterates that the wingers Ijaaz Bohoran and Nimshan Jayawardena and centers Rimze Jamaldeen and Damien Ratwatte have all stepped up when the push have come to the shove.
“Three-quarters have penetrated a lot this season. It’s more of a luxury than a disadvantage that we look for equal contributions from both sets. Some teams who have nippy three-quarters don’t have a proper forward line so are forced to run the line. Probably that’s where this misconception comes into play. Even if you take the try count, there’s justification of it. So we are not worried about that.”
Whoever jumps in joy at the final sound of day of referee Irshad Carder would know they had only won half of the battle.

Royal Squad: Arshad Jamaldeen (Captain), Eroshan De Alwis, Lahiru Pavithra, Shuayb Muthalip, Wasim Bawa, Yasoon Weerasooriya, Andrew Siriwardena, Sachin Vihanga, Madusha Kularatne, Ravishan Dassanayake, Rimze Jamaldeen, Damian Ratwatte, Ijaaz Bohoran, Nimshan Jayawardena, Banuka Gamage.
Reserves-Kaveen Perera, Malaka Ihalagedara, Dineth Karunaratne, Pasindu Perera, Shuaib Jabbar, Nevaan Perera, Sachin Unamboowe, Devin De Silva, Udesh Udawatte, Shahid Bahudeen.

Trinity Squad: Kanil Seneviratne (Captain), Thisila Karunathilake (Vice Captain), Dhuli Samarakoon, Anuradha Karunathilake, Mohammed Insaf, Thushan Dharmasena, Randhika Alwis, Umesh Samarasekara, Mohamed Singhalakshana, Ryle Madena, Sanjaya Somasiri, Tharinda Ratwatte, Dharshana Udalagama, Lochana Girihagama, Haliq Wadood.
Reserves-S. Krishanth, Sankha Ethulgama, Madura Hettiarachchi, Isuru Rangala, Mohamed Rasheed, Kanishka Yatawara, Dureka Aluwihare and Namitha Pethiyagoda, Sanchana Shiek.

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