The games over the weekend were a battle for supremacy. Kandy was host to CR at Nittawela. A 28 point margin of victory over a strong CR side indicates the quality of play on the day.
CR despite having a mix of experienced and new players have not lived up to expectations and their performance during the season has been scrappy at best. This loss will effectively put them out of contention for the cup.
Navy had a good game over the weekend by beating Havies. The margin of victory of 16 points would suggest that they were in total control of the game, which is far from the truth.
After having conceded a sizeable lead the Havies came back with some good rugby but fluffed the game in a single moment of madness. In the dying stages of the game with the scores reading 21/19 in favour of Navy, Havies were awarded a penalty close to the Navy 22 metre line.
Having earlier put over a difficult conversion from 50 metres this was as easy as it gets. For some inexplicable reason they decided to take a short tap and hopefully score under the posts. Navy defence held firm and they safely were put out of the danger zone.
What followed thereafter was pure champagne for Navy. Havies fluffed the ball in their own 22 and the marauding Navy attack picked up and scored under the posts. There appeared to be a controversy as to whether the ball was knocked forward and the referee after consulting his assistant awarded the try.
Havies made a valiant attempt to score and whilst being deep in Navy territory a long cut out pass was intercepted by a Navy three quarter and he ran almost 90 metres to score under the posts. The win by Navy is all the more creditable given that play maker Dev Ananad limped off the field at the end of the first half. The fact that Navy rely so much on him was evident as for most part of the second half they were listless in their game and were like a rudderless ship. Havies was unable to capitalise on this and made several mistakes.
Their inability to off load the ball at the correct juncture was a major issue in addition to the fact that they appear to rely too much on the expatriate players.
The fitness levels of Navy was superb and the same cannot be said of Havies as a number of their ‘oldies’ were seen walking from one breakdown point to another. Yoshitha led the troops well maybe buoyed by the fact that Mum and Dad were on hand to watch Navy perform.
He was given ample support by brother Namal and the effervescent number 8 Bilal Hassan.
The grounds were jam packed obviously boosted by the bus loads of Navy supporters who ensured that we were kept entertained with some toe tapping papare’ music. We were also given a heavy dose of commentary on the match in both languages and at times one felt that we were watching another game.
The SLRFU has some soul searching to do to ensure that quality officials are on hand to control such games as in these stages of the league a minor mistake can result in a loss of a vital game with no time to recoup.