The Police vs Kandy game last Sunday drew large crowds as both teams were unbeaten. Police having given CR and CH a lesson in the previous two games were a force to be reckoned with.
At the outset it was obvious that the Kandy three quarters were not at their best. In fact unlike in the past, they do not look like a team that is invincible. With the right approach they can be beaten.
In their defence, they are not a settled outfit as they should be, given the off field distractions pertaining to their regular skipper and the controversy surrounding another player with rival claims of ownership.
Whilst a late rally in the last quarter saw Kandy win by a margin of 11 points, the win was not elegant. The Police forwards made many attacks into opposition territory, although they had very little points to show at the end of the game.
The Police forwards are quite robust and mobile and can hold their own against most teams this year. Kandy on their part continue to show us that they will dish out the best only at the fag end of the show.
Police are in the hunt for two expatriate players and will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the future. The need for them to recruit sooner rather than later cannot be overemphasised.
The week ahead
This week will see Police take on giant killers Navy, whilst CH and FC will take on Havies. Whilst the other teams Kandy, Air Force, CR and Army will be on duty, the first two matches should serve up some scintillating rugby over the weekend.
Havies will have a point to prove and I am sure that the lessons learnt from the CR game will hold them in good stead going forward. It would be interesting to see whether the selectors will take the bold decision of dropping the expatriate centre and invest in a local player.
Further, as I have stated before, the possibility of the Havies skipper occupying the #8 slot must be explored. As both Havies and CH have expatriate players, the battle by these players occupying vital slots would be fascinating.
On the other hand, Navy are riding high and some inspirational performances by their skipper, the Hassan brothers and Dev Anand could see them get the better of Police.
The #8 slot
There is a school thought that local players with the right training could improve to the desired level. Thus the introduction of expatriate players is only stifling their growth. In most instances, the expatriates are occupying the vital #8 slot and the need of the hour for SL rugby is development of a quality #8.
As of now, there could only be a single contender in the form of Leuke, whilst Saranga from Kandy gave a good account of himself last week. Whilst at the Asian 5 Nations championships Sean occupied that slot, I am not convinced that he is a natural contender.
The new selection panel has in its ranks a player who excelled in this position and it would be intriguing to watch how they approach filling in this position in the future.