Army squanders advantage in last quarter

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The much-awaited Club rugby season kicked off over the weekend, with four games being worked off. As expected the pre-match favourites had it their way, albeit a few anxious moments in two of the games. As expected, a strong Navy outfit simply drowned the Sharks in the shallow waters down south, and it must be heart-wrenching to be on the losing side yet again for the Sharks as they were no match for the firepower of the Sailors. Kandy lived up to their pre-season hype and disposed of the Airmen in clinical fashion. In fact the Airmen almost struggled to take off, except for three successful kicks at goal. Once again, the Airmen were on the losing side and did not look like scoring. There is obviously a deep void between the top half of the teams and the bottom half, leading us to believe that we are bound to witness more lopsided contests. The Havies, minus some of their pole-vaulting stars of the last season, got off to a winning start, albeit some anxious movements at the hands of the Police. Whilst the score line may not indicate the keen tussle that was in evidence for supremacy, many opine that Police were in with a chance, until the greater levels of experience of the Havies shone in the second half. The Army vs. CR game was expected to a close affair. The game overall was scrappy, with poor ball handling skills and decision making. CR looked very rusty and maybe a large overdose of tap rugby was evident as they consistently missed vital tackles. In the first half they had very little possession and when they did get hard-won possession they were indecisive in their plan of action and simply frittered it away. Army had a good first half and were very decisive in their moves and used their three quarters to good effect. The fact that the first two scores were by their winger bears testimony to the same. They did have a plan with the ball in hand, and the new #10 simply acted as a feeder of the three quarter line. In the modern game, that skill alone is insufficient and the # 10 must be an effective ‘director of operations’ and be calling the shots. At times in the first half, Army squandered good ball as they chose to kick ahead within 20 metres of the try line, a cardinal sin unless it is a part of a well-rehearsed ploy. The scrummaging of both sides was poor, as they did not bind as low as was required, maybe due to the soggy conditions underfoot, which did not give them adequate traction. The second half proved to be virtually the opposite of the first as CR began and ended with a flourish. They played with a sense of determination, purpose and executed a game plan. Maybe the words at half time by the new coach had inspired them and galvanised them. On the other hand, Army virtually fell asleep, with no visible answer to the CR forwards’ onslaught. If Army is to improve, they need to be more focused on the state of play and be willing and quick to adapt to changing tactics of the opposition. The support play of Army was poor, as when they made significant breaks past the opposition defence, there was virtually no support and they were eventually penalised for not releasing the ball. At half time, the Army band was a great spectacle to watch, and to a certain extent their performance overshadowed the rugby that was on offer, in terms of clinical execution. The game was controlled by a referee from Down Under and whilst he had a quiet and efficient day in the office, at times he was spotted ‘offside’ as he was in the middle of play, hindering the free flow of the ball. Being on the ball is one thing, and being in the way of the ball is another. (The writer can be reached via scrumaf@gmail.com.)

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