Tuesday, 9 December 2014 00:34
The question which was posed last week was whether the Police performance against CR could be repeated against Kandy or was it a mere flash in the pan. The pundits had their calculators out and were optimistic of a sterling Police performance like the one against CR, one which would throw the league wide open.
Kandy quickly put paid to this speculation after a rather slow first half. Kandy touched down seven times as they ran the Police outfit off their feet.
As of now, Kandy looks difficult to beat either at home or away. They suffered their only blip so far at the hands of Army, who on their day play some good rugby, for what they lack in skill they make it up in brawn. What a difference it would make if Army are able to develop some technical skill as well.
Havies had an early start last Friday against Army with the kickoff at 3.30 p.m., a fact that did not go down too well with the spectators as well as the players. By the end of the first half, the heat and the humidity had taken its toll, resulting in a shabby performance in the second half from both teams. Much was expected from Army and the Havies were wary of another upset. Army made several breaks into Havies territory but were unable to offload due to a lack of timely support or the loss of the ball on contact.
Havies could have and should have scored more in the first half but for some strange reason simply went off the boil after the first few scores. In fact they just managed a single score in the second half and were desperately defending their goal line with thirteen men, having lost the others to the sin bin. Against another quality team, with just a slender lead, they could easily have lost the game. Havies need to watch their discipline as they have often had players sin binned and it has now become habitual.
The defence of both teams was pocked with gaping holes similar to those that dotted the Colombo roads before the city’s beautification started. These gaps opened up so often that it was apparent that the defence was not moving in unison but appeared fragmented, which is a cardinal mistake.
Tackling heavier and sturdily built opponents requires a definite technique and that does not include grabbing them by their waist, which is a waste and fraught with risk. Havies were guilty of many missed first tackles and rather shambolic set pieces in terms of scrummaging.
It is difficult to fathom the action of their three-quarter, who when almost at the opponent’s 22, decided to kick the ball into touch as opposed to retaining the ball and recycling the same. The resultant lineout was in favour of the opposition and all the hard earned territory was lost by one bad decision.
With the game against Navy on the horizon, Havies need to take a look at the Kandy game plan against Navy and draw some inspiration for the style of play for their flanker. Havies definitely lack a set of mobile and hardworking forwards, sans two or three players. Someone needs to tell Ashen Karathelis that he cannot emulate the deeds of Kieran Read of the All Blacks and stand out wide as if he is a three-quarter.
The referees for the bulk of the games continue to be flown in from overseas obviously at a cost and while it may have some benefits, the statement that is being made now is that our local guys are not good enough for the job. The sooner that this is addressed the better as even with the introduction of expatriate players we do not appear to see any distinguishable change in the quality of the local players. On the contrary, there appears to be an overreliance on expat players, so much so that most teams have a squad of four or more expatriate players with most of them not playing a full game, unless of course you are the Kandy flanker.
(The writer can be reached via [email protected])