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Saturday, 17 September 2011

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Kandy SC face fierce challenge from Navy in Clifford Cup final

Navy Sports Club since their re-entry into the 'A' Division rugby arena have proved to be worthy opponents to mighty Kandy Sports Club and in a fitting finale to the 2011 rugby season these two teams will clash in the final of the Clifford Cup - club rugby's richest prize at the Royal Sports Complex on September 17 (Saturday) at 4.30 p.m.


 Yoshitha Rajapaksa (Navy SC Captain)


Senaka Bandara (Kandy SC Captain)

The sailors had the rare honour of beating Kandy SC at Welisara by 11-10 (2009) and 12-11 (2010) and this year pulled off another sensational 29-25 win at the same venue after losing the first round game 12-15 at Nittawela and will be hell-bent on toppling Kandy SC and bagging the most prestigious trophy in club rugby the Clifford Cup for the first time in their history.

Navy's rugby reached great heights in the second round of the Caltex 'A' Division League with three smashing victories over Kandy SC (29-25), Havelocks (35-19) and CR and FC (33-13) to emerge runners up in the 'A' Division League and in the Clifford knock-out Tournament propelled by the individual brilliance of Bilal Hassan and Dev Anand overcame Police (15-12) and Havelocks (23-12) to storm into the final.

But the sailors won't have things their own way in the final as they will be confronting a Kandy SC outfit which will be determined to retain the Clifford Cup for the fifth successive year by overcoming the Navy.

The lads from Kandy suffered a major setback at the start of the season-losing the services of full back Saliya Kumara and No 8 Keith Gurusinghe (who were suspended by the IRB for allegedly taking a banned drug) and Sri Lanka skipper and flanker Sean Wijesinghe due to a knee injury.

But Kandy SC obtained the services of some talented youngsters- Antonian full back Tharindu Chanaka, Kingswoodian Heshan de Silva and Peterite flanker Asitha Ratnayake who contributed immensely as Kandy SC retained the Caltex 'A' Division League Title for a record 12th successive year.

Kandy Sports club boast of the best three quarter-line in the club rugby scene. The halves combination of Roshan Weeraratne and Fazil Marija have hit off smoothly. Weeraratne has dished out some clean passes to fly halt Fazil Marija whose daring breaks had the opponents defence in disarray. Centres Pradeep Liyanage and Gayan Weeraratne are capable of tearing apart the opponents defence with their probing runs while wingers Mohamed Jabbar and Sanjeeva Jayasinghe have stood out with their powerful runs down the flank.


Namal Rajapaksa (Navy)

Bilal Hassan (Navy)

Sajith Saranga (Kandy)

Fazil Marija (Kandy)

Navy's forte have been their power-packed forwards. No 8 Bilal Hassan has been a source of inspiration to his team-mates with his fiery loose play and has been their match winner on many occasions. He has been ably supported by skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Danushka Perera, Kalana Amarasinghe, Sathya Ranatunge, strongly built Sumedha Malewana and the omnipresent Namal Rajapaksa and the Navy 'eight' should once again reign supreme in the loose.

Possession should play a vital role in the final. The set scrums should be shared between Navy's Namal Rajapaksa and Kandy's Anuranga Walpola while in the line outs the Kandy trio of Dinesh Sanjeewa, Senaka Bandara and Sajith Saranga have the edge over the Navy duo of Kalana Amarasinghe and Sumedha Malewana.

Fly half Dev Anand is the key player in Navy's back division. His booming kicks to touch has given his team territorial advantage while his ability to drop goals from difficult angles and accurate place-kicking has been a tremendous boost for Navy.

Kandy SC - Kishore Jehan, Anuranga Walpola, Kasun Yasaisuru, Senaka Bandara (Captain), Dinesh Sanjeewa, Asitha Ratnayake, Heshan de Silva, Sajith Saranga, Roshan Weeraratne and Fazil Marija, Mohamed Jabbar, Pradeep Liyanage, Gayan Weeraratne, Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, Dinesh Kumara or Tharindu Chanaka.

Navy SC - Piumal Manchanayake, Namal Rajapaksa, Sathya Ranatunge, Kalana Amarasinghe, Sumedha Malewana, Danushka Perera, Yoshitha Rajapaksa (Captain), Bilal Hassan, Suranga Pushpakumara and Dev Anand, Chula Susantha, Kosala Tissera, Dilip Methruwan, Samantha Lakshan or Dinusha Chathuranga, Eranda Weerakkody.

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