A totally unexpected, and uninhibited performance by a 15-man Trinity team saw them get cold comfort by winning the second leg of the Bradby Shield at the Royal Complex last evening. Yet, the Shield eluded them as Royal, by virtue of their lead in the first game, clung on to win the Bradby Shield by 47 points to 41.
The potential in the Trinity team was always there, but earlier they seemed to be, in a sense, morally deflated. Not yesterday, as Trinity took the Royalists head on and scattered their wits. They tackled with tigerish ferocity, and forced their opponent into mistakes.
Royal never got going in the first half. They were not their usual, dominant selves. They were not pro-active, but were merely reacting to the situations. Trinity were in the Royal half for around three fourths of the first half, and had a goal and a try to show for their efforts.
Fly half Minindu Jayasundera, who did not play in the first leg, was like a breath of fresh air. He handled faultlessly, gave out the ball well and interspersed that with a few well-chosen punts.
Skipper Reshan Bandaranaike had another good game. His up and unders were well done and he put pressure on the Royal defence by following up.
If the first half was all Trinity, the second was quite different. Sensing danger, Royal came back to discover their mojo. They played as is their wont, with the forwards crashing through defenders and forcing the Trinitians to rush back in defence. They had a better share of the line outs, while Trinity had the edge in the scrums.
Fly half Kalindu Nandila kicked, and kicked, to keep the rampaging Trinitians from penetrating deep into their half. The Trinity backs tended to lob their passes, and this cost them time and, probably, a few points. Royal retained the Bradby Shield for the fifth year
Dulan Gunawardena, Royal’s full back, put his team in the lead with an early penalty. The ball hit the upright and glanced in. Thereafter, it was all Trinity. The way they attacked their opponents and also tried to run the ball at every given opportunity was impressive.
Royal had a scare soon enough, when a loose pass by scrum half Nipun Yasojana saw the ball roll loose. A Trinity player almost got hold of the loose ball. Trinity hovered over the Royal 22 for quite a while and only a brave defence by the home team prevented points.
After around 20 minutes, with Trinity on the attack, Jayasundera sold a dummy and almost went over. But his effort was capitalised on by prop Nimesh Ekanayake, who touched down. Jayasundera obliged (Trinity 7 – Royal 3).
The aggressive Trinity players were dictating the pace of the game. Jayasundera did not falter a second time as he sold a dummy and touched down. But his conversion was poor. Halftime was taken at 12-3 in favour of the winners. At this stage, Royal had lost the plot and seemed to be in danger of losing the Shield, too.
Early in the second half, Trinity borrowed Royal’s chief weapon — the rolling maul — and number eight Lennox Calyanaratne had the satisfaction of scoring against his former school.
Trinity had taken a substantial 17-3 lead by now. Royal upped the tempo of their attacks, and hooker Rajindu Jayasundera was able to crawl over for an unconverted try (17-8). Jayasundera, a short while later, repeated his act of heroism and went over once more. At 17-13, the Shield seemed to be eluding Trinity.
Well aware of the situation, Trinity entered the Royal 22 and showed every indication of staying there. Substitute Koojana Kulatunga gathered the ball and ran round the last defender, to touch down. Miranga Subasinghe, who had come on for Jayasundera, slotted the kick over for their final tally of 24 points.
For the record, Trinity scored through two goals and two tries. Royal had two tries and a penalty.
By retaining the Bradby for a fifth year, Royal have tied their record. However, this is one less than Trinity, who had six wins in the 1950s. Source- Sunday Times Sri Lanka