rampaging Navy at Bogambara today
Who’ll blink first?
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
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
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
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