Sri Lanka in a clinical win

Friday, 5 April 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The large crowd at the Havies ground was treated to a clinical performance by the Lankan lads against Thailand. The performance can be considered all the more pleasing and important given that on Sunday, Thailand had given a lesson or two on free flowing rugby to the well built Kazaks who had wilted in the heat and humidity of a 2 pm start. SL had made a few changes to the starting line-up and the forwards were on song.

With a superior pack weight of almost 130 kg, they put it to good use. It has been a long time, since we last saw teams time and again virtually ‘bulldozing’ their opponents into submission, and that the Lankan lads did with aplomb. Having a weight advantage is one thing but using it is another and SL did just that. The Lankan defence was solid and the fact that the opponents were able to breach the line just once and that too in the dying moments of the game was commendable. SL ran the ball on every occasion and that had the opponents scrambling to cover ground, and leaving many gaps for the nippy Lankans to exploit. Whilst I am a firm believer in the fact that Rugby is a team game, I cannot help but single out Shenal Dias for his work ethics.  He contested every lineout, won a number of them on the opponents throw was in thick of every ruck and maul. His cover defence was great and the levels of fitness exhibited by him were superb.

The three quarters had a good game with some intelligent passing and incisive runs. This kept the Thais on the back foot and starved them of valuable possession. The score line would have definitely passed the 50 mark had SL not dropped the ball on a few occasions with the goal line in sight. Maybe over enthusiasm got the better of them given the early scoring opportunities that they had. The replacements that SL brought on did not impress; maybe they too were overawed by the performance by the regulars.  

SL is now in a comfortable position in the group and should go on to win against Kazakhstan in the final game. The only factor that may prevent SL from making a clean sweep will be complacency which they need to guard against. I am sure that the local think tank will be well aware of such issues and will address them adequately.

After their rather lackluster performance on Sunday, Kazakhstan came back with a roar when they defeated Chinese Taipei. They appear to have gotten acclimatised to the local weather conditions and made a rather telling statement. The margin of victory was great. After the first round of games, almost all of the Rugby pundits were of the opinion that the team to beat as far as SL was concerned, was Thailand. That was soon put to rest by the sterling performance of SL aided by a degree of lethargy by the Thais on Wednesday. It all set up for a humdinger on Saturday and a game not to be missed. In quite a bizarre incident we saw that the ball that was used for the SL game was suddenly going limp and flat. Whilst in Cricket a ball change is common due to it going out of shape, I cannot remember when I last saw it happen in modern rugby.

An important school game will be worked off on Friday as the Peterites take on Royal. The Petes are unbeaten and on current form should get past Royal. However a game is neither won nor lost till the final whistle is blown and many strange results have been observed in the past.  

(The writer can be reached via [email protected])

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