By Harsha Amarasinghe
Royal College who had their title hopes in tatters for most part of their previous game against Wesley College, appear to be eyeing a second half onslaught against Isipathana College in their penultimate game of the Inter-School League Rugby Tournament which is scheduled to be played at Havelock Park today.
The league leaders have left some of their top performers on the bench in a bid to really make the difference in the second half. The half-back combination of Mubeen Faleel and Kalindu Nandila are set to be named in the starting XV with both Nikhil de Silva and Lehan Gunarathne expected to make second-half appearances.
Wing three quarter Pasindu Fernando’s return from injury means that Yasas Rashmika will also occupy a place on the bench, but his recent performance could well earn him a late cameo in what looks to be a very interesting battle.
Banwaja Samaranayake who impressed during that narrow 18-17 victory over Wesley College, has retained his spot in the first XV ahead of Induwara Bimsara in the second row joining ‘Mr. Consistent’ Fadhil Adahan who has been one of Dushantha Lewke’s best players this season.
Himantha Hirushan who has been one of their fans’ favourite will look to keep up his fine try-scoring form despite playing in the front row along with Sasitha Siyath and Ifham Fareed.
The Royalists have been playing some brilliant rugby all season, but the manner in which they secured the victory over Wesley saw a slight dip in form. So, the postponement of games in the previous week would have given them a lot of time to regroup, but Sabith Feroze and co would certainly know that they will be up against a team that has traditionally caused them all sorts of trouble.
Isipathana this year has not done much. Going into the penultimate week, Isipathana are already playing for pride but, generally at this point of the season they would be seen as one of the leading competitors for the title, and this season they would be best remembered for the love they had shown for Trinity College after the 12-12 draw. This however, could be changed if they could pull-off an upset win over a much fancied Royal side.
Captain Manilka Ruberu has been leading them well. Generally, most Isipathana skippers would lead the school in their final year like Senal Deelaka, Omalka Gunarathne and Kushan Indunil, but Ruberu whose kicking saved Isipathana a couple of weeks ago against Trinity, will be around for two more years. This shows exactly what has happened to Isipathana rugby in the last couple of years.
However, if Pathana could get one over their bitter rivals, that would be a decisive blow in the title race.
Isipathana College: Kushmal Rathnaweera, Piyum Ediriweera, Pasindu Dissanayake, Chamod Sandaruwan, Manoj Gautham, Nasran Nilamudeen, Janith Serasinghe, Ravindu Anjula, Kilan Chamath and Anjana Kulasekara, Supun Tharusha, Manula Rathnayake, Manelka Ruberu (Captain), Praveen Stephan, Ramith de Silva.
Royal College: Sasitha Siyath, Ifham Fareed, Himantha Hirushan, Fadhil Adahan, Banwaja Samaranayake, Radesh Wijeratne, Maleesha Madumewan, Risith Kavyanjana, Mubeen Faleel and Kalindu Nandila, Sabith Feroze (Captain), Thulaib Hassen, Janidu Dilshan, Pasindu Fernando, Dulan Gunawaradena.