Pathana, a class act throughout the season

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

If KCK had entertained any thoughts of a win against the marauding green army, they vaporised pretty quickly at the Havies on Sunday. For a brief period of time they threatened similar to the fickle weather that Colombo has been experiencing over past few weeks. Pathana were cool, calm and collected and played as if they were out for a stroll in the park. The fact that they were playing on home turf, with their alma mater just a stone’s throw away must have made them feel extremely comfortable. Pathana does not boast of any big stand out names but they play as a single cohesive unit, with each one appreciating the skill of the other and enjoying the game taking the good with the bad in their stride. It is difficult to review the Pathana performance and settle on a man of the match. If, one were to critically examine their performance, their No. 8 has been a class act, as is their two flankers and the three quarter line. As one reviews the performance of the No. 10 his kicking skills has been exemplary, as he is a tactical kicker. The designated chasers of a high kick ensure that they get to the point to make the tackle and are then generally are able to regain possession. When kicking to touch, he was pretty accurate and the forwards ensured that they won the resultant throw in. A lot of praise must go to the efforts of the coaching staff for their exemplary vision, and their success at moulding these youngsters into a well knit, cohesive and effective team. This also shows that Sri Lanka has the skills and the talent to mould such a team and thus the reliance on overseas skills at school level could be a fallacy. Pathana has produced champion outfits in recent times with the resources available to them and have proved that hard work, dedication, self belief and the insatiable desire to win are key ingredients. They may not have the luxuries accorded to certain school kids in terms of nutrition and training facilities but what they have achieved with the resources available is certainly laudable. TCK finished in the number two slot and their style of play and brand of rugby is totally different yet effective. Their risk appetite is rather low and they depend on doing the basics right most of the time which has yielded the desired results. Unlike Pathana, they play some rather hyped games, in terms of the Bradby which to some is the epitome of all rugby games in the season. Whilst this game is rich in tradition and both schools have produced some outstanding ruggerites as well as academics it is not necessarily the best of games of the season. To this extent some of the schools who have blossomed late into the rugby arena are at a distinct disadvantage with no such traditional rivalries to speak of. For TCK, Ratwatte was brilliant throughout the season and his ability to dictate terms in the three quarter line was great. Moving him to the role of centre is a waste of talent and he must occupy his natural slot of No. 10. KCK was definitely a surprise package this season and few would have given them credit to be in the top four at the end of the season. However their performance was steady throughout the season and in certain games they did throttle their opponents into submission. Their slip up against Trinity in the latter stages cost them a higher spot and their performance in the final game was forgettable. Their style was pretty simple and given an opportunity they would play safe and then run the ball only when they were in the opposition half. Thus their attitude of safety first whilst having its positives also meant that they were limited in their scoring opportunities. The No. 8 cannot afford to bind close to the flanker when attempting a break from the base of the scrum and not hope to run into his own flanker. This type of incident cost them a penalty in the final game against Pathana. Much was expected of RC under the tutelage of the former Petes coach. Other than for a couple of games, especially the second leg of the Bradby, which had no bearing on the league, they failed to deliver as expected. They had a good outing against the Petes and rolled all over them to victory. They definitely had a talented bunch, but, on more occasions than not, their three quarters fluffed the hard won possession of the forwards. The pack was pretty dominant in most games and the bulk of the scoring opportunities were created by the marauding forwards. A lack of a coordinated team play cost them some games and they would have learnt that lesson well. Their No. 8 had a good season and needs to have some of the rough edges polished as is with an uncut diamond. The Petes were disappointing in general with injuries to key players and the inclusion of half fit players in the starting line up. The Petes saved the best for the last and their creditable performances against eventual league winners, Pathana, TCK and Kingswood is commendable. They definitely blossomed late and maybe left it tad too late to get into a rhythm and thus missed out on finishing in a higher spot. Without doubt they have a match winner in Dixon and the need to harness his talent further will be paramount in the future. The coaching staff lacked imagination and if that is not fixed, they will languish in the league in the years to come. (The writer can be reached via scrumaf@gmail.com)

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