You don’t go to an ammunition shop expecting to buy sweets. You don’t go to Hong Kong not expecting to see expatriates. You don’t drive on the road not expecting to stop at a red light unless you are playing a video game. The same vibe was conveyed by this week’s School Rugby action.
Barring the blockbuster clash between Trinity and Isipathana, where predicting the winner was like predicting the outcome of a toss of a coin, the others meet-ups all went true to form. Even the match that had lot of headlines for the close proximity of its eventual by-product, Royal vs St.Joseph’s, wasn’t too fond of sliding away from the norm. Josephians gave their heart and soul and as with the uncalled for trajectory they are back to square one.
Admittedly they played much better during the Saints match against St.Peter’s for 70 minutes and if not for the brain freeze in the next 10 minutes could have called it a day on the 13 year domicile in finishing in the successful side of this fixture. In that match their defence was diminutive compared to last week’s sleepiness. The long and consistent periods of pressure at the Royal line was undone by laggardness whenever the ball came to their half and however shoestring that maybe each time Royal made sure the scoreboard doesn’t remain idle. In the end, it cost the Joes.
As the assistant coach T. Bohoran deciphers it’s the inexperience in the bench that is causing the dilemma in choosing between keeping the tired legs on the field or running the risk of replacing them in the second half. They couldn’t be motioned for lack of courage and in reality they should have won all three previous matches, but when the dust settles what matters are the results. The date against Kingswood will be a good hurdle to start with because if they don’t produce a result with Trinity to come a week after, the run-in with the fellow relegation-schemers could be rocky at best.
Royal meanwhile plotted a grand escape and the defence looked see-saw most of the times. Both teams didn’t understand the physics of the wind at Longden place and the minority in the ground gained from kicks waved in acceptance of this fact. One thing that would please them is that they continue to win after being outplayed for long stretches in this match. The injury to captain and play-maker Arshad Jamaldeen reminded of the Bradby second leg last year where after his limping off, Royal’s remote turned mute.
They can rest some players during the St.Anthony’s game considering the dreadful season the Katugastota lads have had and ensure the camp is in full health for the moment of truth against St.Peter’s on June 9th.
The range of kicks on Sunday during the Trinity vs Isipathana game educated what purposeful hoofs can do and the expected cagey-affair was on offer. Isipathana were miles the better side in the first half, but their avarice towards penalties meant the advantage wasn’t properly utilized. The tackling and retaining the ball tactics Nilfer Ibrahim and Neil Foote instilled to the boys during the team chat at the break worked wonders and Trinity’s performance was top notch. They cramped Isipathana for room, the tackling which was faulty in the first half was flawless and the mauls were formed to great effect to take the ball forward after the initial runs. In short, they returned to their roots which wasn’t the case against St.Peter’s the week before.
Isipathana would be smarting from this defeat which spoils their ‘loss’ column and although Hirantha Perera’s compass was working perfectly, it was felt that they should have at least scored one try in the first 40 minutes. Coming back against a rejuvenated Trinity side is always easier said than done and so it proved. Havelock lads can locate some lost confidence immediately for they face D.S Senanayake this week.
D.S could not get a foothold against Petes in the most lop-sided match of the season so far and will have to turn on the screws when they run into St.Joseph’s and Kingswood if they plan a longer stay at the top. Petes continue to cause havoc and Dulaj Perera in the absence of Danushka Ranjan has accustomed to the captaincy role like Al Gore did to democracy.
They should be vary of upcoming Science fixture though as the Mount Lavinia crew were unstoppable in the second half against St.Anthony’s. Coach Mothilal Jayathilake has stressed that survival is their target, but they are licensed giant-killers. Petes were on a head of steam last year too before crumbling on the face of an onslaught by ‘Lions’, so they wouldn’t want any repeats.
Considering the crest of the wave Vidyartha find themselves in, they were expected to beat cross-town rivals Kingswood and duly did. It wasn’t a cake walk and a try in the dying seconds was what it took, but they continue to please eyes this time. After being promoted, they have been admirable in every way and the measure of their standing can be gauged this week against Trinity. A win could propel them to the top four and win or not so far it’s been remarkable.
Vidyartha loss withstanding, Kingswood still demonstrated that loss of some feathers won’t make them stop flying completely and St. Joseph’s is a litmus test for them to take care of with a win enough to create some daylight between them and the bottom half-pack.
However, dramatically close the matches have been, last week was a tale of the ‘expected’. With the season in full flow, it won’t be far for the ‘Expect the Unexpected’ to be granted though.
Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi
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