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Royal and Trinity in close battle for supremacy

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Randul Senanayake (Royal Captain)- Ataab Manzil (Trinity Captain) 

Royal College will start favourites when they confront traditional rivals Trinity College in the 77th annual Bradby Shield first leg rugby encounter at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy today. The kick-off is at 4.15 p.m. after the junior matches.

The lads from Reid Avenue will take the field brimming with confidence following some superb all-round rugby this season where they have recorded four successive victories to top the Inter-Schools Under-19 League Tournament points table.

In fact, this will be Royal’s final first-round match of the league tournament and they would like to collect the maximum points ahead of the important Super Round segment.

In addition, Royal are on the threshold of creating history and are looking to retain the Bradby Shield for the fifth successive year following their success in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.

Royal are the holders of the Bradby Shield since 2015 and in the following year the match ended in a tie while Trinity last won the Bradby Shield outright way back in 2014 under the captaincy of Tarinda Ratwatte.

Therefore, with the odds heavily against them, Trinity will need a huge turnaround of events and change of fortunes to pull off this game and to bring an end to Royal’s dominance in the series.

However, the Trinitians are just beginning to settle down to play their brand of rugby after having suffered a shock 15-17 defeat at the hands of hometown rivals Dharmaraja College in their opening game of the league tournament at the Bogambara Stadium.

But last week, Trinity produced their best performance for the current season when they ran down eight tries during their comprehensive 55-10 win over Science College on their home grounds. They also have the services of a reliable place kicker in former Gampola Zahirian Shan Althaf

“We don’t want to add unnecessary pressure on ourselves, but we just want to play this game as another encounter in the league tournament,” Trinity Head Coach Fazil Marija told the Daily News yesterday.

“We have a young side this year, but they have improved a lot during the last couple of games and I hope the boys will carry forward the same momentum into this game,” Marija stressed.

In fact, Trinity will hold the home advantage once again and last year too, they put up a spirited performance to win the second leg 26-21 at Pallekele despite conceding the Bradby Shield to their opponents 26-50 on aggregate.

“It has somewhat been difficult for us to beat Trinity at Pallekele but we are very much confident of putting up a good performance,” Royal Head Coach Dushanth Lewke told the Daily News yesterday.

“We want to stick to the basics and play the brand of rugby which we have performed throughout this season and hope the boys would deliver the same results,” he emphasised.

“Yes, we had a tough opening game but thereafter, we identified our weak areas and now most of the players have got into their rhythm to play well,” Lewke added.

Royal Squad:

Thineth Gamage, Imthisal Nazeer, Hadiq Hussein, Binuda Malalagama, Yehan Rajasinghe, Randul Senanayake (Captain), Yasiru Senevirathne, 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 Mohamed, Duljaya Gamanayake.

Trinity Squad:

Thenuk Fernando, Dehan Watagoda, Senula Alexander, Ravin Illangaratne, Venuka Kumarage, Chamendra Dhanapala, Harith Samaraweera, Thisanga Dissanayake, Rushen Bandaranayake, Shan Althaf, Sachindu Wanasekara, Anuhas Kodithuwakku, Lakindhu Herath, Ataab Manzil (Captain), Abidh Jameel, Senitha Karavita, Yasiru Ariyawansha, Jayageeth Basnayake, Jeywin Samarakoon, Nisith Kumarasinghe, Hamdan Faizal, Usmaan Safraz, Chamod Dehigama.

Referee Ishanka Abeykoon

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