The prestigious annual encounter between Royal College and Trinity College will continue this Saturday. Royal will host the second leg after winning the first 22 to 17 points in Pallekele, Kandy.
Trinity had the exact start most expected down in the Lion’s den. However, Royal played smart with calm and composed minds to dent Trinity’s hopes of lifting the Singer Schools League 2017 after a lapse of 30 years.
Royal tight five had an industrious work rate simply drowning the opposition pack. Trinity had 46kg more than Royal’s total pack weight of 677kg. However, Royal inevitably held on to perfect scrum techniques to pressure their rivals over the weight advantage.
Going in to this weekend’s decider, there are no changes perceived in the forwards for Trinity and they will need to crank gears in terms of controlling the scrum. The 100kg + prop duo Aveesha Priyankara and Shaveen Ekanayake’s front row binding and engaging will decide the strength of their scrums.
The other key aspect were the lineouts where Trinity had a poor day. They lost seven (7) and won just five (5) whilst Royal won eleven (11) and lost only four (4). Trinity certainly did miss their ‘Retallic’ version, Rashen Madane in the jump which cost a lot in the lineouts. Madane missed the game due to dengue fever and is hopeful of coming off from the bench this Saturday.
Royal’s tight head Ashan Fernando, hooker Hamza Reeza and the flanker Maleesha Madumevan showed their strength and mobility and keeping that performance for 80minutes
was simply brilliant. Centre Thulaib Hassen had an outstanding game; more often than not he cuts inside with the ball in hand where he will not get isolated in the tackle as he found the forwards support to clear the ruck. The other option was to send the ball out-wide after a few phases to dangerous Dilshan at the outside centre.
What was surprising in the first leg was that Trinity received a kickable penalty in the first five minutes and instead taking the points they opted to kick to touch, which resulted in a turnover of possession in the lineouts. This decision can be argued. Nevertheless, that move showcased Trinity’s mindset for that game; they would have been relieved after scoring the first try albeit the decision but not with the full time results.
Even during the Aviva Premiership final last weekend, Exeter Chiefs opted for the same ploy, a kickable penalty for 3 points was not taken, eventually lost possession going in to the lineout. Even the former Lions and England center Geremy Guscott mentioned before this final that Exeter will pile 3 after 3 points but Chiefs had different plans which could have gone wrong. However, going in to the second leg decision making in the first 10minutes will play a huge part at Royal Complex.
Royal scored tries among their forwards whilst Trinity scored through the backs. Aveesha Priyankara and Shaveen Ekenayake were the aces in breaking the Royal defensive wall. Priyankara previously played as a center who converted his position in to a loose-head prop and still we see him engaged in-line among the backs both in attack and defence.
The decider will emphatically be on the shoulders of the outside halves, Ovin Askey (Royal) and Lashane Wijesuriya (Trinity). Both these players didn’t have the best of the outing as Askey missed a few kicks in to touch and then a poor pass which went forward in the second half which perhaps could have been a try if the advantage was not played. But his aggressive approach was what was needed to marshal his troops which gave them the fruitful results at the end. His opposite number Wijesuriya although scoredthat try, didn’t play to his potential and made some decision making errors. Therefore, the mindset, body language and game management of these two will count this Saturday.
Trinity’s centre pair Warren Weerakoon and Diluksha Dange was the best combination until the penultimate weekend of the league. Their opposite numbers Thulaib Hassen and Janidu Dilshan simply outstripped them in Pallekele. Dilshan has the temperament of a pro rugby player even after missing few kicks he didn’t lose his focus that was well witnessed in the match against Wesley College where he had a horrible day in the first half but his intercepted try was the game changer in the second half.
Royal might not need to do any change in their game plan as all they need is three solid lineouts in the opposite 22m. If the winger Sabith Feroze can show some kicking skills from either foot then Royal could have scored another one or two tries as Dilshan was chasing in support.
Trinity may need some changes in the starting line-up among the backs. They need to be patient enough to stick to their game plan for 80minutes. Most importantly they need to play the territorial game which came too late in the first leg.