The Trinity – Isipathana clash, will be the pick of next week’s Cup championship fixtures. Isipathana will host Trinity on June 4th at CR and FC. The rest of the fixtures played on the same day will be — S.Thomas’ playing St.Peter’s at Havelock Park. St.Anthony’s hosting Royal at Nittawela and Science playing Wesley at [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Trinity-Isipathana clash — A whopper


The battle for the School Rugby plum is clearly between Isipathana and S. Thomas' - File pic

The Trinity – Isipathana clash, will be the pick of next week’s Cup championship fixtures. Isipathana will host Trinity on June 4th at CR and FC. The rest of the fixtures played on the same day will be — S.Thomas’ playing St.Peter’s at Havelock Park. St.Anthony’s hosting Royal at Nittawela and Science playing Wesley at Royal College Sports Complex.  The much looked forward inter-school rugby encounter between Trinity and Isipathana, though being not played for any shield or trophy, series dates back to 1981. The encounter has been played since then, except for years 1991 and 2000, and have produced some thrilling fare.

Both teams are bound to dish out open rugby with their back line running at every given opportunity, and this has been the quality of the series. Presently Isipathana lead the overall head to head tally, against by 22 games to 17 with three tied games in years 1990,1992 and 1993. In the recent past Isipathana has dominated over Trinity, by winning five matches in a row, since Milo President trophy final in year 2012. Trinity will face a daunting task to beat the present Isipathana outfit, who are enjoying a superb season by ending the first round unbeaten.  Trinity led by second row forward Rahul Karunathilake, need to give an improved performance in the second round, forgetting the hiccups experienced in the first round.

The Trinity forwards and backs, need to check on their opponents,who posses a well balanced side this season. The Isipathana ‘eight’ led by number eight Vageesha Weerasinghe and the flankers Devin Guneratne, Sashmitha Fernando are quick to pounce on the loose ball. Their fiery loose play have won many turn overs in favour of them in this season so far. The nimble footed back line led by ‘Green shirt’, skipper cum center Kushan Indunil and his deputy cum co-center Sumudu Rankothge, is a lethal combination. Trinity need to watch out on these two players, as they can create havoc on any opposing defence.

The ‘Lions’ too posses a good set of forwards and three-quarter-line. Apart from skipper Karunathilake, who is leading the team from front, players such as Shalindra Alahakoon, Rukshan Dammapala,Anjana Bandara and Shadie Deen are good in loose play. The backs have hard running players such as Geshan Pethiyagoda, Dulakshan Dange, Avishka Sheik, Sanjana Sangasinghe and Sanushka Abeywickrema, who can penetrate any defence and on their day, they look very dangerous. Lashan Wijesuriya, the new Trinity stand-off, with his booming kicks to touch and piercing runs can threaten the ‘Green shirts’ defence frequently.

Finally Trinity must play their experienced half back Anuka Boyagoda in the remaining games. Boyagoda, is the number one scrum half for Trinity, with one year experience behind him. Unfortunately due to unknown reasons this season, he has been in the bench and rarely touched the ball in a first XV game in the first round.  A cracker of a game can be expected from this Trinity-Isipathana encounter.  The S.Thomas’- St.Peter’s clash for the Archibald Perera trophy, too will be interesting. The unbeaten Thomians enjoying a superb season so far, go as the favourites.

On the other hand Peterites, did not performed to their true potential so far, but are determined to perform better in the second round. Peterites indeed, face a daunting task to put a halt to Thomian run of victories. Pandula de Silva led ‘Black Brigade’ is an all round side.  One of the best, after so many years in Thomian rugby history. Their forwards,with a mobile back row have caused many a damage to their opposing teams. Apart from the skipper, Malinda Deshapriya his deputy, Sachitra Jayathilake, Wayne Mack and Christin DeLille are the outstanding players of Thomian ‘eight’. The three quarters are a treat to watch.

Of the backs,Wing Naveen Henakankanamge, Ashwantha Herath, Shavin Nanayakkara and Bumindra Dissanayake have performed superbly so far in the season, with Henakankanamge being the cynosure of all eyes. Peterites led by Sandesh Jayawickrema, need to concentrate on both their rivals forwards and backs, and it will be no easy task. Petes too have equally good set of players, who can worry the Thomians. Of the forwards, number eight Senura Premawardena,Shane Gurusinghe and Sajth Seram are outstanding and look solid in loose play. Out of their backs, the link man Avishka Heenpella,Stephen Sivaraj, Diyath Fernando, Shehan Madhawa and skipper himself can cause problems to Thomian defence.

But they need to put up a good show to halt the Thomian back line, making frequent incursions and breaking their defence.  Royal College will face stiff opposition when meeting St.Anthony’s at Nittawela. Antonians in the second round, are out to put up an improved performance, and likely to cause upset or two. Royal meanwhile, as the defending league champs, will not let Antonians have it easy. Nikhila Gunadeera, the skipper cum number eight, is leading the team from front. The Royal ‘eight’ will carry on their trade mark rolling maul, and it is highly unlikely that their opponents posses an effective answer to halt it. Of the Royal forwards, apart from the skipper, Ayesh Maduranga,

Harith Lokugamage, Azmir Fajudeen and Maleesha Madhumewan have played outstanding rugby throughout the season. Hope Royal will more often play equally, with their three-quarters in the second round and not depending too much on their forwards to deliver the goods. They posses a good back line with players such as deputy skipper Ashok Vijeykumar, Nikhil George, Mahima Gamage, Owin Haskey, Lennox Calyanaratne and Sabith Feroze who can threaten any opposing defence. Antonians led by Pasindu Dilshan, did not performed up to expectations in the first round, and was lucky to be included in the Cup championship after scraping through against Kingswood.

They too have players with individual brilliance but not played to their true potential.  The Wesley-Science encounter too will be a thriller on the cards. But Science College go as favourties into the game. The Mt.Lavinia school posses a very good outfit, with their forwards and backs forming well to give a sterling display this season.The Science potent weapon has been their backs with skipper Nirosh Udayanga,and his deputy Thanuja Maduranga, clicking well as the two centers, and causing problems to their opponents. The “double blues” need to watch out for these two. The Science forwards are not to be outdone.

The players such as Udesh Madushanka, Daminda Lakshita, Ravindu Sankalpa,Vinam Kavinda and Janith Lakshan have stood out so far in the season. On the other hand, the determined Wesley outfit led by Prop Dayan Sabar,are out to surprise the Mt.Lavinia school. Wesley is a team, that have all the ingredients to upset the favourites.The players such as Asanka Hashan, Kavindu Sankalpa, Vishva Wettasinghe and Sashika Ashan from their forwards and backs, Avishka Lee, deputy skipper Dennister Goonathilake, Omar Kuthubdeen and Asantha Hashan are outstanding players, proving themselves in the first round, and can cause worries to their opponent on the day.   -NK

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