This week’s games will have little bearing on the league as HSC have already been crowned as league champs. The Lions have done HSC a magnanimous favour by beating Navy last week and this was against all expectations.
I know that I may ruffle a few feathers by saying so, but given the performance of the Lions until then, a win over Navy was not anticipated unless of course if you were crystal ball gazing. The fact that eighty four points were scored in as many minutes, might be thrilling for the crowd, but does indicate serious lapses in defence by both sides. Similarly the fact that the HSC/Kandy game also produced 69 points indicates serious issues in the Kandy defence. I believe that one of the key moments of Kandy was when their prop forward was substituted after which Kandy lost all momentum. Until then Kandy was dominant upfront, after which HSC gradually but surely wrested control of the game.
Navy was down as the favourites against UCL and after their loss the previous week to Kandy one would have thought that they would have been well prepared to iron out their shortcomings. Alas this was not so and the loss to UCL will hurt them for more reasons than one.
This week will see Navy take on HSC at Welisara, and despite HSC being crowned as league champs, Navy will be out to prove a point or two as well as to avenge the first round defeat. One hopes that it will be a good game of rugby with both teams taking an interest in gaining an upper hand in the tussle for supremacy. The strength of HSC has been to use their three quarters as they have done them yeoman service this season. Navy does possess a team that could unsettle any opponent on the day and if so, the battle will be intense and enjoyable. All we could ask is for fast and open rugby with loads of enterprising play.
Army appears to be on course for the plate and are sitting pretty on 36 points including 11 bonus points from the 10 games played so far. When they get their act together they are a treat to watch and if the first 20 minutes of their game against CR last week is anything to go by, they should be looking at piling up the points in future games as well. They will not be in action this week and will once again be on display on 9 September when they take on the Airmen. It is indeed heartening to see them jell as a team with no stars on display and despite a number of them not having played at a junior level. If at all one could fault their style of play it is over enthusiasm resulting in their being no arms in the tackle and being penalised for infringements at the breakdown.
On the international arena, we will see the second clash between the All Blacks and the Wallabies whilst the Springboks will take on Argentina. Both games are on Saturday, although one of them will be in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Whilst the first game will evoke a lot of interest, I am not sure that there would be diehard rugby enthusiasts wanting to watch Argentina early on a Sunday morning. Having said that strange things have happened in the field of sports and an upset can never be ruled out. The Wallabies will be without their skipper Pocock, whilst Quade Cooper will make the starting line up at number 10 to pair off with stand in skipper Will Genia. Kurtley Beale will miss out due to a rather lacklustre performance in the last game. The All Blacks will have just one change with Crocket coming at prop forward as an injury replacement. It will be a tough task for the Wallabies to keep the All Blacks at bay and with the forced changes; the team balance may also suffer.