As a torrid league season ends, it produces one final opportunity for all teams chasing Kandy to put the past defeats behind them and fight afresh for Dialog Clifford Cup glory.
Bit of History
Having started in 1911, the Clifford cup is one of the oldest tournaments in Asia. the trophy was donated by Lady Elizabeth Clifford as her birthday falls in August.
The initial tournament saw just two teams take part as All Ceylon took on Kandy United Services but later it was transformed into Sri Lanka’s main club rugby knockout tournament.
Kandy have dominated winning with 20 wins with some impressive streaks along the way. The team from the hill capital won the tournament for 10 years from 1995-2005 (1998 no tournament). They also went on to win it from 2007-2012. The latest hat-trick being from 2015-2017 and they will surely be wanting to extended the latest streak.
Havelock Sports Club have won it on 13 occasions while Police Sports Club on 8 occasions and CH & FC 7 times.
Quarterfinal 2: Navy SC v Police SC at Racecourse – 16th February 2018. Kick off 4.15 p.m.
Navy ended the league handing Air Force a 7-try drubbing and with it earned a second-place finish. Meanwhile defeat to Army meant nothing changed at the foot of the table as Police ended in 7th position.
Last weekend’s Player of the Match, Mohomad Abzal is a man to have a close eye on as he has found himself a new home at Navy and made the transition seamlessly into a rather new position at first receiver.
Highest try and points scorer Thilina Weerasinghe is in the form of his life and will surely be aiming to carry it through as Navy look to go one better than Kandy in the Knockouts trophy.
Credit must go to the lads from Police as well, as they played their hearts out in defeat, yet again. However, if they are to get anything out of this game, it will undoubtedly need to be a relentless team performance for 80 minutes and nothing less.
Navy got the better out of Police, not once but twice in the league and will surely enter this game with an edge over their opponents.
Quarterfinal 1: Kandy SC v Air Force SC at Pallekelle – 17th February 2018. Kick off 4.15 p.m.
Fazil Marija could not have scripted a better end to his time at Nittawela and will certainly want to make it that much sweeter by adding one more trophy to Kandy’s cabinet.
Nothing has gone Air Force’s way and now they face a daunting task at the hands of Kandy, in the heart of the Hill capital ‘Bogambara’.
It’s needless to say, the Legend himself, in red hot form will be the main man to have an eye on, and, a team with 14 wins already to their name, will be nearly unstoppable.
A sniff for the visitors seems highly unlikely, and you will not see anyone placing a single penny in their favor.
Quarterfinal 4: CH & FC & CR & FC at Racecourse – 17th February 2018. Kick off 4.15 p.m.
Again, the arch rivals from Colombo 7 meet in the Maitland Derby as CR seek to avenge their defeat over CH.
The visitors did not have it their way as they were pushed to the breaking point at Longdon Place the last time they met, however, they did have the last laugh adding insult to injury for CR.
A sensational comeback saw Sudarshana Mututantri score and display a performance worthy of Man of the Match, however, ThePapare.com Player of the game Hashan Maduranga’s final minute try was the match winner as they propelled CH towards a better finish over CR –in the game and League table both–
Nothing seems to be going the way of CR & FC, however, if they manage to upset highflying CH in the quarter final, the past defeats will seem a distant memory.
Quarterfinal 3: Havelock SC v Army SC at Racecourse – 17th February 2018. Kick off 6.15 p.m.
Havelock Sports Club will be gutted to have missed out on second place, but another opportunity presents itself, this time against rivals they have had the better of.
The lads in Pink, came ever so close up at Nittawela as they were propelled by Lasindu Ishan and the trusted right foot of Riza Mubarak. The two will certainly aim to put on yet another show and hope they end on the winning side this time around.
Army never reached the heights of the League, however, like all the others are just three wins away from silverware.
Army have troubled the Park club in the past but Havies have always seemed to have their wits about them.