In a high scoring game the 66th edition of the Bradby Shield match ended in near darkness at the Royal College Sports Complex yesterday with the home side winning by a solitary point.
The match was packed with more twists and turns than any writer of fiction could fabricate. Royal defeated Trinity by 38 points (three goals, one try, three penalties and one drop goal) to 37 (three goals, two tries and two penalties) , but it could have gone either way; the pendulum swinging throughout the match.
A Royal player is ankle tapped while in possession.
This is the highest tally in single leg scored by both teams beating the year 2000 score of 32 points to 25 in favour of Royal. Over both legs Trinity have won 35 to Royal’s 29 with one tie.
The match started in World Cup soccer style with all the players walking accompanied by a child.
Both teams made tactical changes before the kick off with the visitors shifting flanker and Skipper Damith Dissanayake and number eight Shannon Armstrong around. Royal shifted their Captain Duminda Attygalle from centre to left wing three quarter.
The ' lions ' from Kandy started off brighter of the two sides and scored as early as the second minute of play with wing three quarter Akila Dissanayake going over for a classic try under the post with the Royal defence mere spectators. Dissanayake was to score again later. Centre Kanchana Ramanayake converted the try to give the visitors a seven point start. The big difference between the two sides was that while in possession, Trinity would spread the ball wide relying on their dangerous-looking threes to deliver. Royal opted to ‘pick and drive.’ with their superior forwards. In the very next passage of play Royal had a narrow shave after Trinity infringed close to the Royal touchline. In the 10th minute Royal opted to kick a penalty in to touch and following the line out victory Royal worked the ball for centre Tharaka Wijesuriya to touch down far left. Fellow centre Mursid Faleel made the difficult conversion look easy. Trinity grabbed the initiative once again with Ramanayake slotting over two spot kicks.
Picture shows Royal’sShalinka Samaraweera about to touch down in the first leg of the 66th,Bradby Shield against Trinity at the Royal College Sports Complex. Pic by Sanka Vidanagama
Royal looked threatening whenever they counter attacked and their fly half Arshad Jamaldeen converted two penalties to even the score. The match swung two and fro keeping the big crowd on tenterhooks. . After a sustained period of pressure Jamaldeen put over a running drop goal to give Royal the lead once again. But immediately thereafter Ramanayake touched down and converted his own try enabling Trinity to lead 20-16.
Almost in the 39th minute of the first half Royal hit back through Royal wing three Dilshan Palihakkara touched down and Murshid Faleel converted to put Royal back in the lead and to lead by a narrow 23 points to 20 lead at the short whistle.
From the get go in the Second half Royal was in motion and it did not take them long to extend the lead courtesy the boot of Jamaldeen. Royal led 26-20. Shortly thereafter the scoring continued with centre Shalinka Samaraweera putting the finishing touches to a brilliantly worked try sending the Royal supporters to ecstasy. The try went unconverted to give Royal an eleven point (31-20) lead at that stage. Trinitian centre Nimesh Yatawara then touched down but Ramanayake fluffed the conversion - Royal still leading 31-27.
In fading light and a heavy downpour Royal extended the lead through hooker Adil Jabbar when he touched down almost under the post. Jamaldeen made no mistake with what proved to be a crucial conversion. With the rain pelting down and the skies darkening further Trinitian centre Dissanayake touched down by the corner flag with a scintillating three quarter move but missed the vital conversion. This gave gritty Royal victory by one point with the away leg to come Saturday after next.
Referee: Irshad Cader.
Holders of the Simithiarachchi trophy Trinity face an uphill battle after Royal thumped them by 28 points (one goal, three tries and two penalties) to 15 (three tries) after leading by ten points to five at lemons.
Referee: Major Uplai Kotuwegedera.