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Kandy SC face fierce challenge from Police

A very close contest is expected when the defending Clifford Cup champions Kandy Sports Club takes on last week's giant killer Police Sports Club in the semi-finals of the Dialog Knock-out rugby tournament for the Clifford Cup to be played at the Bogambara Stadium, Kandy (Wednesday) on October 3 with the kick off at 4.30 pm.

Having lost the Dialog league title after winning on the trot for 11 years Kandy Sports Club must win this game if they are to win a trophy this season, otherwise they will be repeating their performance of 1998 when they failed to win a trophy for the only time since 1992 – their year of resurgence.

Last Friday a surprisingly small crowd of less than 200 watched Kandy Sports Club notch up their highest ever win over CR and FC by 85-5.

Kandy's rugby fans perhaps missed this epoch making match and the reasons for not being is not known may be they were disappointed with the performance of Kandy SC during the league championship when they lost two games one to Navy and the other to Havelocks Sports Club by the huge margin of 50-19 and this was a bitter pill to swallow for the rugby fans and they perhaps decided to keep away.

In the past – the Kandy SC-CR and FC tussle was a sort of a “Local Derby” in which a jam packed house witnessed this clash. Spectators enter the grounds as early as 3 pm to occupy vantage positions. It was sad to see the dwindled crowd at the last game which was one sided with the Red Shirts allowing Kandy to go on the rampage.

With Kandy SC entering the semi-finals and this may rekindle the hopes of Kandy supporters is expected as Kandy Sports Club has the largest support base among clubs today. They are genuine supporters who are not brought into the grounds in bus loads.

Kandy's failure this season is due to injuries to key players such as skipper Saliya Kumara, Nuwan Hettiarachchi, Keith Gurusinghe, Gayan Weeraratne – all top players and this made their side weak. Adding to their woes was that the foreigner contracted by Kandy are not good as foreign players playing for other clubs. In a situation such as this one cannot expect a team to succeed. But all these players are back in the side and Kandy could hope to have a go at the Clifford Cup.

Police Sports Club on the other hand are in fine form and their win over Navy last week will go down as their biggest achievement this season as the sailors were one of the top contenders for championship honours but the cops torpedoed them in style.

Fitness has been policemen's forte this season and they counter Kandy's finesse with this. In Fujian David Williams they have a fine player and his play in the loose could change the complexion of the game. Adding to his talents is his brilliant place kicking which could be decisive in a close game.

The police have not named Dashanth Lewke in their team and he missed the last game too. When these two teams clashed in the league stage Kandy SC after being held to a scoreless first half won 26-0. But it is not going to be easy for Kandy and the cops could create an upset if the Kandy team is complacent.

Kandy SC probable team Kishore Jehan, Anuranga Walola or Damith Dissanayake, Heshan Silva, Buddhi Talagampola, Senaka Bandara Moses. Foster or Asitha Ratnayake, Sean Wijesinghe, Keith Gurusinghe, Roshan Weeraratne and Fazil Marija, Nuwan Hettiarachchi, Gayan Weeratne, Pradeep Liyanage, Dayan Danushka, Saliya Kumara (Captain).

Police SC from: T Sivanathan, Lasantha Gamage, Udaya Kumara, Romesh Archarige (Capt), Dinesh Kumara, Chanaka Suriyapperuma, T D Senaviratne, David Williams, Hashan Gomes and Lahiru Gurusinghe, Isuru Ratnayake, Roco Masoni, Indika Bandara, N Ranatunga or Shanaka Kumara, Damien Ratwatte.

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