Defending Champs Kandy SC Face New Comers Up-Country Lions Today
- Rugby – Club Season
By Hafiz Marikar
A unrelenting brand of rib-bruising rugby should be on display when the defending champions Kandy Sports Club take on new comers Up-Country Lions packed with experienced players at Nittawela this evening. The kick off is at 4.30 pm., with Pradeep Fernando handling the whistle.
Possession will be key for both sides in today’s game who will be needing plenty of good ball to play their brand of open rugby.
The tackling of the Kandy SC’s back division aligned to the cover defence of the third row might well have an effect on the
Up-Country Lions back division.
While the Champs from Nittawela will be overwhelming favourites they are certainly not going to have things easy against the Lions who have been boosted with the inclusion of All Blacks Sevens maestro Lote Raikabula as one of their foreign players.
The defending champs were dealt a severe blow ahead of the season when star wing forward Sajith Saranga left the club. Saranga was expected to turn out for a rival club but there has been no confirmation of that yet and the player is still contracted with Kandy SC.
A fully fit Saliya Kumara is expected to make a world of difference, specially since he is backed by a set of experienced players.
A rousing game of rugby is on the cards with Kandy SC who are riding a crest wave of success in the last couple of years are capable of pulling this game in their favor.
Kandy SC is expected to keep play with their three quarter line and hence deprive the new comers of a forwards battle on which they thrive.
However it will not be an easy tactic to see through. As long as the ball is kept on the ground in straight forward rucks the Kandy SC forwards can successfully initiate second phase attacks through their link-man Roshan Weerakoon . This player has made tremendous leaps in confidence and has mastered the knack of keeping fly half Fazil Marija well back and sending out long range passes.
Fazil will be backed by some top players in the back division like Gayan Weerarthne, Edi Etuato Lolohea, Pradeep Liyanage, Rizmeer Jabar and leader of the side Saliya Kumara will man the last line of defence.
New comers Upcountry Lions will be led by New Zealander Matthew Ropetti Time who will man the vital number 8 position. They will also have another New Zealander Magele Kurt Hayden – a renowned place kicker – who will play at full back.
The side also has plenty of experienced local players like Radika Hettiarachchi and Dilip Selvam – both former Kandy SC players who also led the Nittawela club in previous years, and Nigel Ratwatte who should all give a good show.
Former Kandy SC skipper Imthi Marikar who coached the Airmen last years is in charge of the Lions. So, this side will be out today with lots of interest, and are all out to pull this game, which will be difficult task.