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Bradby Shield at stake as Royal face Trinity in decider

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Traditional rivals Royal College and Trinity College are set for another blockbuster when they clash in the 77th annual Bradby Shield second leg rugby encounter at the Royal Sports Complex in Colombo today. The kick-off is at 4.15 p.m. after the junior matches.

The Trinitians, of course, will carry a slender three-point advantage for this decider after they edged out the lads from Reid Avenue 13-10 in the first leg of the Bradby Shield played two weeks ago at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy.

The Bradby Shield

The Bradby Shield

Trinity will also have their full squad fit for this game after last week’s setback where they were forced to pull out from the league tournament match against Zahira at Maradana due to medical reasons.

“Last week, we had about 10 players from the First XV down with suspected food poisoning but all of them have fully recovered and will be available for the Bradby second leg,” an official from the Trinity Scrummage told the Daily News yesterday. In contrast, Royal will need a huge turn around in their overall performances as they look to retain the Bradby Shield for the fifth successive year following their success in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022. The Bradby Shield fixture did not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, Royal are the holders of the Bradby Shield since 2015 as the match ended in a tie in the following year while Trinity last won the Bradby Shield outright way back in 2014 under the captaincy of Tarinda Ratwatte. But this time, Trinity have a strong belief that they could turn things around, especially after their spirited performance in the first leg where they surprised their opponents through some terrific running rugby.

Their new place-kicking sensation Shan Althaf will be hoping to produce a repeat performance following his match-winning contribution in the first leg where he added the extra points to their solitary try in addition to putting over two vital penalties. Royal, of course, will have several areas that they need to iron out if they are really concerned about a comeback win although they will enjoy the home advantage in this vital game. The absence of a reliable place-kicker was badly felt in the first leg and their kicks to touch were also quite appalling, which allowed the opposition to regain possession once again.

Therefore, the Trinitians will once again try to expose their opponents’ weak areas and will certainly look to use their three quarters more often to obtain territorial advantage.

“We did not play to our true potential in the first leg as few key players were nursing injuries, but they have all recovered and will go with the same line-up,” Royal Head Coach Dushanth Lewke told the Daily News yesterday. “Some of our players are into their last season and I want the boys to play the brand of rugby they have dished out throughout this season and make it a grand finale in their schools’ career,” Lewke added.

Royal Squad: Thineth Gamage, Imthisal Nazeer, Hadiq Hussein, Binuda Malalagama, Yehan Rajasinghe, Randul Senanayake (Captain), Yasiru Senevirathne, Buwaneka Senanayake Thanvir Hassen, Simak Shafeek, Thivain Perera, Charuka Senevirathne, T. P. Samarakoon, Philio Calyaneratne, Disas Pathirana, Nabel Yahiya, Afeef Akram, Rushen John, Yehaan Weerasooriya, Yovindu Ethugala, Amika Samarasinghe, Mohamed Hussein, Nakeeb Mohomod, Duljaya Gamanayake.

Trinity Squad: Thenuk Fernando, Dehan Watagoda, Senula Alexander, Ravin Illangaratne, Venuka Kumarage, Chamendra Dhanapal, Harith Samaraweera, Thisanga Dissanayake, Rushen Bandaranayake, Shan Althaf, Sachindu Wansekara, Anuhas Kodithuwakku, Lakindhu Herath, Ataab Manzil (Captain), Abidh Jameel, Senitha Karavita, Jayageeth Basnayake, Jeywin Samarakoon, Nisith Kumarasinghe, Shayan Satheeshkumar, Hamdan Faizal, Upek Gammudali, Chamod Dehigama.

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