Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:06
The stage was set on Saturday evening for a high class game of rugby. Navy had already annexed the crown but wanted to end on a high as undefeated league champs whilst Havies wanted to avenge the first round defeat and maybe end up as runners up. Havies had the home advantage and a chance to show off their skills in front of their home crowd.
The grounds were packed to capacity and the fact that the President and the First Lady were in attendance added a big boost to the local sport. It’s not often that proud parents are provided the opportunity to witness three of their sons in a winning team and they were in no mood to let the historic occasion slip by. Once again we had the sourced the services of an expatriate referee from the UAE and that set the tone for ensuring that fair play was maintained throughout the game.
Hero of the day – The omnipresent Navy forwards who were quick to the breakdown point and with some quality counter rucking were able to win plenty of turnover-ball.
Villain of the day – After having secured a ‘mark’ in their own 22 the Havies take a short tap and their fly half fails to secure touch but kicks midfield. The ball is collected by Navy and they stroll over for the easiest and softest of scores on the stroke of half time. The fact that Havies had just scored prior to this was all in vain as the momentum shifted to Navy once again going into half time. This proved to be the turning point of the game as well.
Referee Blooper of the day – Havies won a five metre scrum and were going in for a pushover try. The Navy pack had all but collapsed and the Havies # 8 was in total control of the ball with the team moving forward. The referee indicates ‘use it’ and in the absence of the ball being used by the Havies, he awards a scrum to Navy. Needless to say the Havies # 8 looked perplexed.
Comment of the day – The commentary box was manned by the vastly experienced and well respected S.W. Chang, and in the excitement of a Havies pushover try, he failed to follow the action. After the score had been made, he was asking all around, ‘what happened there?’ It’s imperative to keep your eyes on the ball even if one is in the commentary box.
Talking point – The Havies decided to start off with two youngsters in Devin the former Thomian skipper playing his first game and Dulaj. This came at the cost of leaving out the evergreen and highly effective Sheriff and Niroshan on the bench. The experiment had limited success with Devin making a fine conversion whilst Dulaj gifted a soft try on the stroke of halftime.
Disoriented moments – Navy were awarded free kicks for minor infringements by the Havies. As the Navy skipper disentangled himself he was seen on more than one occasion pointing to the posts. Alas one cannot take a kick at goal directly when awarded a free kick.
Navy would have definitely partied well into the night and despite the game not being played at Welisara, they had bus loads of supporters at the grounds, with their tell tale crew cut and the standard slogan ‘Go Navy go’.
The knock out games will start next week and we are guaranteed of some hard fought rugby in the next few matches. Kandy, Havies and the Lions will have to dig deep if they are to make an impact on the last stages and give Navy a run for their money. Navy on the other hand will want to cherish this season forever as they have won the league title after 39 years and would like to make a clean sweep of the knock out as well.
(The writer can be reached via email@example.com.)