When Alexander the Great had the measure of the world, he was unstoppable. Not only was he written in history pieces as probably one of the greatest military commanders of all time, but his tactics have their own folklore. His thirst for dominance never waned with time contrary to most facts of life of a conventional mortal and ruler of being one of the largest empires of the world constitutes what a brutal, ruthless and successful commander he was.
The key word here is successful. The merciless means of war brought him success. They may not have been so pronounced like the maverick of the chronicle, but considering the aisle of the top four teams in Group A this year they are vividly step above the rest. The disparity in the two halves of the tables can be apportioned to the lack of seniors, teams in a rebuilding phase, finding feet being not that leisurely or even hitting a bad patch at the wrong time, but what it certainly does is, it creates a simple formula for the title tussle, mid table and the relegation dog fight.
Alexander was so above others that sometimes he took hold of cities without killing a single person. Isipathana’s 111-10 shelling of D.S Senanayake may not have completely dismissed doubts whether this year’s side is championship material or not, but what it did was take them right back into the contention.
With matches against St.Peter’s and Royal still in the wings, it’s a tough call when you include the scan results of the Trinity game at Longden Place and the quality of their decision making in that match left a lot to be desired too but a peep at the table tells it’s still in their own hands. In Hirantha Perera, they possess one of the three form place kickers in the league and some fine tuning of the strings could turn out to be the windfall time when the two crunch fixtures against league leaders come calling.
Alexander was thwarted in India when his own army fell back on his plans but before his conquest of Persia he strolled through the Balkan campaign. Trinity ‘Lions’ was in a pickle after conceding the advantage to St.Peter’s in their own territory after a gripping match but the response has been in line with the reputation.
Isipathana match was an indicator of their ability to adjust where after a poor first half, their mauls and drives were in full flow in the second which subsequently allowed them to edge the match and the sorry state they plunged the bright spark of the season, Vidyartha (62-7) means they are getting their act together.
With Bradby two weeks away, they would be hungry for more prey and with two of the three obstacles out of the way; Trinity has the friendly lane to travel if they put their heart to it. They can’t control their destiny since St.Peter’s are still unbeaten and they have already passed that fixture.
Trinity’s immediate adversaries, St.Joseph’s would like to disagree with it though as they finally kicked into gear with a 41-26 win over Kingswood after weeks of misfortune. Joes skipper Yohan Keyser has been an unsung hero and his performances have hid behind the wiles of Josephian defeats, but four more tries of brute power to his already impressive total finally put to an end the winless streak. As superstitious as it maybe, it was the shift from No8 to his usual position as the prop forward that changed the pattern for them maybe.
This match had the unheard of sequence of play where Keyser executed a drop goal from 35 metres out to stun the crowd and let along 35 metres in a sphere where even 20 metre drop goals are hardly heard of in international rugby union even from a prop, the gathering at Pallekele should be thanking their lucky stars to have witnessed this rare occurrence of brilliance.
St.Anthony’s and D.S look forlorn at the bottom with St.Joseph’s vaulting themselves out of the company but in the absence of Joes, Kingswood has received the invitation to not leave the final two alone. They lie perilously close at 8th and the victory against ‘Eagles’ in the first match of the season could bail them out from the jail. D.S is still to combat Kingswood and that match where the lads of Kandy will be strong favourites could clear lot of fog from the window.
During his early days what Alexander did best was to consolidate power. He eliminated what he thought was his enemies and it paved way for him to venture into other lands with audacity. Royal and St.Peter’s continue to win and did so quite comprehensively too. St.Anthony’s bubble burst in the second half letting the defending champions off the hook to suffer a 38-7 defeat and leaders look efficient without of being outrageous.
They rested players envisaging bigger battles up ahead and they are 18 games unbeaten in the league and the three-quarter line has been working cohesively to drive forward the advantage given by the forwards. They haven’t encountered any of the big guns yet due to being the champions last year and that could spell two things. It lands the advantage of building up for the crunch matches without being heckled and gaining that winning spirit and on the other hand it can be an ambush because the step up in class in the final three games can signal a freefall. How things work out could be interesting see.
The biggest gain Petes would have from their 32-6 win over Science, of course apart from Dulaj Perera’s foot’s graceful punches, is the performance of the forwards identified by critics as their weak link. Putting a spanner to their stroll was not beyond Science which could make for a much more close game but cutting edge was elusive to them.
The quartet’s form means it’s anybody’s game and matches pitting each other will decide the title for one is to be triumphed one has to surrender. After all, Alexander’s death signalled the end of his kingdom and territories.
The Island Link-Calling The Shots
Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi