Singer League 2016: Save the best for the last

Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Shamseer Jaleel

Two unbeaten teams in the Singer league 2016, Isipathana and the Thomians, will battle it out for the Singer League 2016 at the CR and FC rugby grounds on 18 June, which will be the fitting finale for Singer School Rugby League 2016. If Isipathana wins it will be after a lapse of two years but Thomians are hungrier for the shield since 2000 when they won last under Gavin Jayasekera.

Thomians led by Pandula de Silva has a crack outfit with players such as Mallinda Deshapriya, Sachitra Jayathilake and Shanjiv Angammana all being class acts. They hold the heaviest set of forwards among school rugby this season, being mobile as well. To add to this they have the best winger among schools, Naveen Henakankanamge, who could split any defense in to pieces with his powerful run down the wing. Centre Ashwantha Herath and full back Mayon Jayardena are both above average players in their position. 

Thomians beat Katugastota Antonians 41/11, Peterites 36/13 and ran circles around Science when they outclassed them 34 to nothing in their second round encounters. 

Meanwhile Isipathana’s strength is really on their speedy three quarter line. They have skipper Kushan Indunil and his deputy Sumu Rankthge who could make their ghosting moves in tandem to work. If not put a full stop to in the early stages of the game, the Thomians could be in deep trouble allowing these two to get into top gear. 

Nilfer Ibrahim, the Pathana Head Coach, is sure to bring some uncommon tactics in this vital encounter which will be the league decider.

Isipathana should be mindful of the Thomian forwards who could be match winners if not contained. Isipathana beat Wesley 43/8, Trinity 32/22 and Royal 28/14 in their round two encounters. Referee Irshard Cader is assigned for this crunch encounter. 

On 18 June Royal should have things their own way when they confront Science College who lost their way in the later round after some promising play in the first half of the league. Though placed third and Royal at number 4, the Reid Avenue boys are a much more organised unit with their usual rolling maul tactics to which Science will not find an answer.

Royal led by Nikhila Gunadeera, has Ayesh Maduranga, Ibrahim Barie, Ashik Kumar, Feroze Shabith and Askey to guide them through. Coached by the National Youth Head Coach, Sanath Martis who is an excellent reader of the game, they should go past Science outfit and secure the number 3 position at the end of the league which will avoid meeting Trinity at Knock-out quarter final stages. Royal beat St. Peter’s 33/24 and Antonians 26/13 and lost to Isipathana 14/28 in round 2.

Meanwhile, Science too has some good players but they need to work as a unit to reach the end goal. Skipper Nirosh Udayanga, Tharindu Maduranga, Sanjula Roshan and Supun Dilshanall are good runners given the ball and space and Royal could be in trouble. So far in round two they have had unimpressive wins over Trinity 15/12 and Wesley 11/7 before being thrashed by Thomians 34 to nothing in their last outing. This encounter will be played at Havelock Park officiated by referee Rohan Fernando.

On 18 June there will be two games up in the hills. Trinity who are placed 5th will be playing their last encounter at their own den in Pallekelle when they host the Peterites. The third oldest school rugby match encounter between the two esteemed institutions started way back in 1933. This encounter is played for the Late Lieutenant General Dennis Perera Shield. He was the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army from 1977 to 1981.

Trinity led by national youth player Rahul Karunathilake is a unit improved in the last couple of weeks. Though much was expected from this outfit as at junior level, the same unit ended as Under 16 school champions three years back but failed to deliver results this year around. Number 8, Shalindra Alahakoon, Flanker, Shade Deane Anjana Bandara, scrum half Anuk Boyagoda, Geshan Pethiyagoda, Dulakshan Dange and Sanushka Abeywickrema are a set of crack players who could turn out to be match winners. Trinity will heavily depend on fly half Lashan Wijesuriya’s place kicking to be accurate to put pressure on the Peterites. 

Peterites have number 8, Senura Premawardena, skipper, Sandesh Jayawickrema, Theekshana Dassanayake and Aveeshka Heenpellaall, very good players for the Bambalapitiya school. Dharmapala Nimal will be the referee.

In the second Kandy encounter Wesley will meet the Katugastota Antonians in the ‘Battle of the Wooden Spoon’ to avoid the last position at Nittawela Rugby Stadium on 18 June. Wesley led by Zayan Sabar will have a clear edge over their opponents. The Antonians will heavily depend on their full back, Maduantha’s place kicking and touch kicks. He is one of the best place kickers this season. Pradeep Fernando will blow this game.