By Aubrey Kuruppu
A twelve point cushion going into the second leg and with home advantage to boot, Trinity's position looks well-nigh unassailable.
But, as the Scottish poet Robert Burns pointed out, "the best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agley". There is that indefinable something called the 'Bradby Spirit' which sometimes makes a mockery of confident predictions. It doesn't happen all that often, but lost causes have been salvaged in stirring second leg encounters. The Royalists, led by Suminda Lenaduwa, who have a bit of a mountain to climb, will be clutching desperately at these straws.
Harking back to that first leg, the Royal forwards were superb in the first fifteen minutes or so, the rucks and mauls were cleverly done and their heroic number eight Bilal Hassan was able to draw first blood.
Stung into action, the Trinitians put their thinking caps on and fought back. They gained ground, inch by inch, and realizing that their undoubted strength was in the back division, they began to run the ball.
Their young fly half Yatawara was quite brilliant, the chief facet of his play being the thinking that underpinned his moves. Two punts ahead by Yatawara ended with wingers Wijesinghe and Kuran Armstrong doing the scoring. They were aided considerably by the weak tackling of the Royalists.
14-7 at the break and the Bradby Shield was about to start the 72 mile journey to Kandy. Royal’s push over try in the second half - an effort in which even the three quarters joined - was an excellent bit of work.
The difference between the teams could be summed up thus. The Royalists had a few good individuals and depended on them to a large extent to deliver the goods. The lack of team-work was glaringly obvious at times. By contrast, Trinity had a good team.The Rugby dished out in the first leg by both teams was superb and Rugby aficionados must be fervently hoping for a repeat next Saturday. Veteran Rugby player, coach and administrator Maurice Perera had this to say.
"The passing, rucking, mauling and the line out work made me think that I was watching an international match".Another Trinity legend, a former skipper of the National Team. Ajith Abeyratne had more interesting observations. He felt that this was one of the best matches in recent times. The four Trinity tries did not come off breakaway moves but off sweeping moves by the back division in which a lot of players were involved. The level of skill displayed was very high. In most facets, Trinity seemed very strong.
As for a Royal comeback, Ajith feels it's unlikely. The only cloud on the horizon is Sunday's ‘A’ division final against Kingswood. The recovery time is only five days and this puts a lot of pressure on the Trinity players. If they can recover, it should be Trinity's Bradby.
Another ex-rugby player who does not have links to either school but who has made a name for himself as a coach and referee has a discordant view. He feels that the Bradby Shield will remain in Kandy but that Royal could win the second leg. A few Royal players tended to be selfish and they seemed to depart from the stipulated game plan. They will put up a better fight this time round. In fact, they had their chances last week but did not take them.
Trinity coaches Anil Jayasinghe and Pradeep Basnayake can pat themselves on the back for a good job done throughout the season. They had only one blip on the radar (against the Peterites) and a big sore from the unheralded Anthonians.
CPP Abeygunawardena will have to dig deep into his vast reservoir of experience and come up with some quick fixes to counter the confident Trinitians who enter the second skirmish with their tails up.