Kandy faces rampaging Navy at Bogambara today

Who’ll blink first?

By Hafiz Marikar
When defending champions Kandy SC and Navy SC take the field for today’s Clifford Cup final at Bogambara Stadium, Kandy, both teams will be stepping into a venue that is resonant with history. The top two teams in the Clifford Cup knockout competition will clash at 4.30 pm.
In their two league encounters, both teams won a game each at their respective home grounds. In the Clifford Cup quarters, Kandy received a walkover from Havelocks, Navy beat Army, and in the semis Kandy beat Air Force and Navy beat CR & FC in extra time. So, the achievements of both teams go to make this game a close one.

In today’s game as long as the Sailors’ forwards are left mobile it will be like the legendary sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of Kandy SC. This is the realisation that has struck Kandy and their cup final strategy will be to immobilise the opposing forwards by running the ball at every opportunity, at which Fazil, Sanjeewa, Roshan, Jabbar, Chamara, Saliya are capable.

Fazil Marija, captain of the team which has enjoyed one of the best seasons yet again, knows very well that he will not lead the team in a more pressure-packed game than this evening’s confrontation. There is no room for compromise, only a natural desire to win this final for which both teams will have flawless battle plans.
For Fazil, rugby has been a kind of religion and needless to say he must have enjoyed every moment of the game since his entry into club rugby. The very fact that he has been in a great number of cup finals highlights his experience. And there can be no better way of capping all these triumphs than today. The defending champs, Kandy, are now the kings of club rugby in Sri Lanka. Mindful of their ability to use the high ball to maximum benefit, they will have to plan their moves. The choice of Saliya Kumara confirms that the coach wants a running fullback as the focal point of their back division, and one who could collect and tackle whatever the pressure. Their mode of operation will be to constantly take play to the opponents side and deprive the Sailors of a forwards battle on which they thrive.

However, it will not be an easy tactic as Kandy’s cover defence is the best seen in the season. A marked characteristic is that there is a back-up brigade of at least three forwards when their outsides are going up to tackle their man. Thus, if they hope to retain possession the Navy forwards will have to run in constant support of their backs.

As long as the ball is kept on the ground in rucks and mauls the Kandy SC forwards can successfully initiate second phase attacks through their linkman. This player has shown tremendous confidence with every game and has now mastered the knack of keeping fly half Fazil Marija well back and sending out long range passes. This doubtless gives a little more room for the centres to use their enormous thrust in attack.
Kandy SC lose the services of Sajith Saranga for today’s game, as he received a red card in the semis against Airmen.

Navy’s skipper Sumedha Malewana knows the taste of success and defeat like the back of his hand. Navy will field their best for today’s final in respect of strength and experience. Kandy SC should continue their march forward. In today’s final, the Sailors will depend much on forwards like Namal Rajapaksa a heady character, skipper Sumedha Malewana, Suranga Swarnatilake, Hamza Hassan, Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Piumal Manchanayake. From the three-quarter play-maker Dev Anand, Suranga Pushpakumara, Nuwan Hettiarchchi, Dilip Methruwan and Eranda Weerakkody.

When the final count is taken, neither Kandy nor Navy will have many points scored against them. Whether both teams can score enough will depend on whether they could add better cohesion to their play and on how well skippers Fazil and Sumedha, lead their sides.
Kandy from: Eranga Swarnatilake, Anuranga Walpola, Kishore Jehan, Achala Perera, Buddhika Thalagampola, Senaka Bandara, Sean Wijsinghe, Kasun de Silva, Aravinda Udangawa, Dilip Selvam, Roshan Weeraratne, Chamara Vithanage, Anuruddha Wilwara, Mohamed Sheriff, Mohamed Jabbar, Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, Saliya Kumara, Prasad Chaturanga, Dharshana Etipola Coach: Johan Taylor. Manager: Kapila Silva,

Navy SC from: Piumal Manchanayake, Hamza Hassan, Suranga Swarnatilake, Kalana Amarasinghe, Sumedha Malewana (Capt), Rohitha Rajapaksa, Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa, Suranga Pushpakumara, Dev Anand, Nuwan Hettiarachchi, Chula Susantha, Dilip Methruwan, Nilufer Ibrahim, Samantha Lakshan, Eranda Weerakkoody. Coach: Ronnie Ibrahim.
Scott Hurbert from Arabian Gulf will officiate as referee and the touch judges will be from Sri Lanka Referees Society.


Dilantha does Sri Lanka proud again

Dilantha enjoyed great success at the Asian GT3 rounds 5 and 6 and Malaysian Super Car series round 2 on July 16 – 17 at the Sepang F1 circuit, Malaysia.
His new Lamborghini LP560 arrived by air on the 16th morning just before the qualifying round. “I must thank Yoshiyuki Hayashi for lending me the money to buy the car and George Cassian owner of Kevin builders in Sri Lanka for paying for the air fare and all the spare parts, if not for these two gentlemen I wouldn’t have made it,” said Dilantha

Asian GT3 round 5
Dilantha was fastest in the 1st testing and was 2nd in qualifying for GT3 Asia, while he had no time to do any set up on the car and decided to race it in the same condition for this race, but was very happy to run out of the box and be fast.
In the round 5 of Asian GT3 Dilantha got a good start but in turn one Alain Siu knocked him twice from behind sending Dilantha out of the track. The car stopped and was facing the opposite direction. Dilantha said: “It took me about 30 seconds to start and get the car back on track but within the next 8 laps I overtook 8 cars and was just behind Tunku Hammam who was running 4th. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th were all within a second, I tried to overtake Hammam in turn 14 and he braked earlier so I almost spun again and went off the track taking about 4 seconds to recover but caught him up again in the next lap and just finished 5th behind him. But I did the fastest lap and was 3 seconds a lap faster than the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Mok Weng won the race I think he was very lucky that I spun on the turn 1. I didn’t want to complain to the stewards about Alain for hitting me from behind but talked to him and he apologised.”

Asian GT3 round 6
Dilantha started 5th on the grid and this was a wet race as it was raining really hard while the race started behind the safety car as the weather conditions were not good. “Weng was on pole and he got away at the start but I got blocked to 2nd, 3rd and 4th and couldn’t see much in front due to heavy rain but by the 3rd lap I was 2nd and then the safety car was on track due to a few accidents. I got a drive through penalty because I overtook Hammam without seeing the yellow flag. I was able to catch Weng who was running 1st and almost overtook him many times at the corners but, as he had the straight speed, I got blocked in the corners and knocked him once and broke my front bumper and spun again.” Dilantha explained his round 6 experience and how he had to go through the drive through penalty in the last lap but still finished 5th just 0.09 seconds behind the 4th placed driver. “Once again I did the fastest lap for this race and Weng was one second behind and Hammam and Kevin Tse who finished 2nd and 3rd were 9 seconds slower than me on each lap. I was getting used to the car. Now I have a car that is similar to everyone and I am confident I can win the rest of the races for this year and win the championship for Sri Lanka. Now I am 4th in the championship but I will somehow win the championship for Sri Lanka.”

Malaysian Super car series round 2 races 1 and 2
“I won both races in the Malaysian Super car series; there was no challenge for me at all. After the Asian GT3 races I got used to the car and no one could get close to me,” Dilantha exclaimed in delight. The first race was a dry race and Dilantha finished a minute in front of Joe Sevak in 2nd place and lapped Adrian De Silva who was 3rd. It was raining once again in the 2nd race and Dilantha lapped every one. Now he is leading in the championship with Weng 2nd and Hammam 3rd.

Dilantha was most appreciative of all those who helped him so far and the minister of sports’ good wishes and his promise to support him in the future. “Hon. C.B. Ratnayake called me the other day to wish me. This is the first time ever that a sports minister has called to wish me and he said he will support my activities in the future and I am very happy about it. I must thank Hayashi and George Cassian for financially supporting me to buy the car, all the media personnelof Sri Lanka who have always supported me and the chairman of Rupavahini, Sarath Kongahage for sending the crew to cover the races. My very special thanks go to Major General Udaya Perera, Deputy High commissioner of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia and the staff as they support me a lot and help to find sponsors and they have been very helpful whenever I needed them. I also appreciate all my fans on face book and everyone else for their wishes and messages which make me so happy and give me more courage to win races for Sri Lanka. My next big race will be the Merdeka 12-hour race which will be from August 6 to 8 at Sepang F1 circuit in Malaysia where I will be competing against most of the world champions.

(Release from the Ceylon Motor Sports Club)


No violence please says Kandy, Navy SC officials

By M Naushad Amit
An unprecedented appeal by the two teams in the Caltex Clifford Cup Knockout final, Kandy Sports Club and Navy Sports Club, was made to the rugby loving spectators and security personnel pleading with them to prevent any incidents that may tarnish the image of the game at the encounter which is scheduled to kick off at 4.15pm at the Bogambara Stadium in Kandy today.

“This encounter is expected to be a thriller and both teams will definitely give their best efforts to emerge winners. Incidents may occur in the middle of the field in a game of this nature but its all part and parcel of the sport. Though supporters of both teams may feel emotional, we expect them to enjoy an exciting game of rugby in true spirit of sportsmanship,” Navy SC coach Ronnie Ibrahim told The Nation.

However the manager of Kandy SC, Kapila Silva who made a similar appeal had a different point to emphasise. “We hope the security personnel appointed by the organisers for the big event would do their job in a professional manner. Last weekend, during the semi-final played at the same venue some Kandy SC supporters had to experience bitter treatment from the Air Force security personnel that were deployed at the location. They manhandled spectators and some were beaten badly. Few injured spectators including women who were beaten by belts had to receive treatment. We wish these sort of incidents are not repeated. Supporters of both teams may cheer and enjoy the game but security personnel should be neutral when it comes to handling spectators. We sincerely hope all the fans and those who are appointed to protect them would do justice for the game in the name of sportsmanship,” Silva said.

Navy SC beat CR & FC by 19-12 in a thrilling semi-final at the Royal Sports Complex while Kandy SC beat Air Force SC by 27-23 at Bogambara in the other semi-final last weekend to qualify for today’s final. However since last year, after Navy SC re-entered Division I rugby, they have managed to shatter Kandy SC’s dominance in the top league. Kandy SC beat the Sailors by 32-3 in the match which was stopped 12 minutes before full time following an assault on their players in their first meeting at Nittawela last year. Navy SC won the second round match played at Welisara by 14-13. This year in a first round match played at Welisara the Sailors again made Kandy SC feel the hoodoo when they beat them by a similar margin where the result was 12-11. However Kandy SC gained back the upper hand in the second round to beat Navy SC by 28-16 at Nittawela last month.
“We are fully prepared for the big game. The team is in high morale and we are out of the injury worry which is good news. The boys know that we are playing in a final after 21 years and are determined to do their best to win the game. Though we won the semi-final, we committed errors and cannot afford to repeat them in a crucial game like this. The practice sessions so far have been good and our boys are fully fit to aim for the gold,” Ibrahim added on Navy SC’s preparations.

Silva who said that the entire Kandy SC camp is in good shape, praised his teams approach in the semi-final last weekend. “Our boys played a superb game there against Air Force last weekend and are fit to carry on and do the finishing touches. We know that Navy is a tough side but we are ready to take on the challenge with due respect to them. The boys are keen and looking forward to have a good game,” he added.

Kandy SC has won the Clifford Cup 16 times, which is the most number of times by any team followed by CR & FC who have won 15 times. During the past three consecutive seasons Kandy SC has retained the Clifford Cup while Navy SC qualifies for a knockout final after 21 years. They last played in a Clifford Cup final in 1989 under Parakrama Samaraweera after beating Havelocks SC by 16-4 in the quarter-final. In the semi-final they drew with Police SC after the final score was locked at 6-all even after extra time. Navy SC qualified for the final on the toss of a coin and eventually was beaten by CR & FC by 3-6. In 1989 former Royal, CH & FC and Sri Lanka third row forward Bryan Baptist coached the side with the backing of the then rugby chairman of Navy, Lt. Commander Thisara Samarasinghe who is presently Vice Admiral and the Navy Commander.


New basketball court at St. Benedict’s

The fully fledged basketball court at St. Benedict’s College Kotahena was ceremonially declared open by the Director Rev. Bro. Granville Perera yesterday.
The special feature of this event was the magnanimous gesture of providing equipment amounting to almost Rs. 13 million for the court by Tony Ganlath, a distinguished old Ben who was a dynamic sportsman, past president of the Old Benedictine Sports Club (OBSC), and current vice president of OBSC.

Ganlath pointed out the significance of applying modem techniques which are often used in other countries in this sport. Among other equipment, one of the machines gifted helps a player to take as many practice shots in a very short period of time with the ball being returned to the same player without delay. Other items presented are a movable players’ bench, a ball forwarding machine and a special ball collector which are remarkable facilities.

In order to minimise errors made at the official scorers’ table an electronic scoreboard was also presented.
Ganlath mentioned this was a dream come true when he recalls his past as a basketball player and a fan of the sport. He hoped that St. Benedict’s would make great strides in basketball in the future and continue to produce players to the national squad as they had done in the past.


Lanka-Pakistan Friendship cricket festival

The Pakistan High Commission has organised a Sri Lanka-Pakistan Friendship Cricket Festival in collaboration with Sri Lanka-Pakistan Friendship Association on Sunday (August 1) at Stanley Jansz grounds, Alwis Place Colombo 3 from 10 am.
Limited-over friendly cricket matches will be played between ladies, gents and children’s teams of both countries. In addition various other recreational and cultural activities including music etc has been organised.
The participants will also have the opportunity to experience Pakistani/Sri Lankan food during the event.


Zahira 7s today

Thirteen school teams will vie for glory in the third consecutive Zahira 7s Inter-School Under-20 rugby Tournament which will take place today at the Royal College Sports Complex. The tournament that has the blessings of Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union and Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association will feature top-notch teams including current league champions St. Peter’s and two-time title defenders Isipathana. The Zahira 7s which was inaugurated in 2008 to celebrate the 85th anniversary of rugby at the school has been a successful event during the past two years where Isipathana emerged champions on both occasions.
As during the past, the winning teams in the Cup, Plate and Bowl and the most outstanding player of the tournament will receive trophies and cash rewards. The tournament will commence at 8.00am today with the finals of each segment to be played from 4.00pm onwards. Phoenix Industries, Diamond Food Products and Allied Trading International have come forward to sponsor the tournament this year. [MNA]