The pundits and the bookmakers may favour Royal College over Isipathana College in the match that everyone is talking about. But in reality Royal will be at the mercy of Isipathana when the two teams clash in the decider for the 2015 inter-school League rugby title at the Royal Sports Complex ground on Saturday.
Royal had over the past two weeks escaped two thundering contests against St. Peter’s College and St. Joseph’s College before winning and it could take only an extraordinary performance, which may not be impossible, to help them survive a third onslaught against an opponent who is like no other.
Both teams are masters in their own brands of rugby and will undoubtedly look to deploy the same tactics. But what makes Isipathana a shade better than Royal or a team with the magic touch is that they have the potential and the craft to deviate off the usual course at crunch situations.
Should that be the case Royal could run out of options, making Isipathana the favourite to wrap up the contest and with it the Title for a second year running.
Although Isipathana had just one bumpy ride against St. Peter’s College before winning 20-18, they have so far gone through a season that has prepared their muscle for Saturday’s blockbuster which was on the cards from the day the League began.
Unlike last year what has made Isipathana a champion force that some skeptics have not realized is that they no longer depend on the exploits of their charismatic pack leader and number eight Omalka Gunaratne to produce results.
Nearly all of Isipathana’s 15 ball carriers are try-scorers and self-motivated to the last letter that makes them a stand-out team.
Whether Royal can continue to depend on their rolling maul is left to be seen. But what is certain is that the home team will have to come up with new thinking and ploys to out-fox an opponent who will ask for nothing.
In other matches to be played today, St. Peter’s College host Science College at Bambalapitiya, St. Joseph’s College host Trinity College at Longden Place and S. Thomas’ College confront Kingswood College at Havelock Park.