Friday, 24 January 2014 00:00
The final game of the first round matches was completed on Wednesday with the original curtain raiser between the Havies and the Sharks being finally played. It appeared that the Sharks were quite out of their depth as they battled to keep a rampant Havies side minus a few of the stars at bay. In terms of quality of rugby there was very little on offer except for some individual performances.
Navy came out on top being unbeaten although they did have a few close shaves against the Havies and CR. Kandy was jolted by Havies as well as Navy and after last week’s loss to the Havies the head coach has lost his job. It appears that all is not well in the Kandy camp despite their assertions at the start of the season that they had a plethora of players to choose from. If this was the abundance that they were speaking of, then their analysis and recognition of talent is rather poor.
CH once again gave a poor account of their rugby skills and the scores against them made embarrassing reading. If there is a system to relegate them to another division it must be done as each of their games was a total mismatch. The players themselves must be disillusioned in having to turn up for a game and go back well and truly beaten.
Navy has by far been the most aggressive side of the tournament and if one is not willing to stand up to their physicality then it is easy to be pushed over. Of the other services sides, Army had a good outing although on a number of occasions their inability to finish off a move let them down at critical junctures. Kandy raked up some T20 scores against the lesser mortals but when it came to crunch time against the Navy and the Havies they failed to deliver to the lofty standards that they had set in the previous years. Whilst Havies are the defending champions their style of play has been quite different to that of last year. Not all of their wins have been convincing this year and at times their defence has let them down. The redeeming feature is that they do not appear to be over reliant on any particular player or for that matter even on the expatriates.
The second round games kick off this weekend and I would think that the CR/Havies game would take pride of place. Under normal circumstances a CR/Havies game brings out the best in both teams as these two clubs enjoy a rich tradition of sporting rivalry between them. This time should not be an exception and some quality rugby is expected on Sunday at Longdon Place.
If CR plays the expansive rugby that they did against Navy in the first round, they have a very good chance to topple the Havies. If the Havies play to their potential they could control the show and keep their championship chances a further boost. One of the key elements in the Kandy/Havies game was the quality and the consistency of the refereeing. If this can be achieved then we are in for a thriller.
The other noteworthy game would be between Kandy and the Lions and these two teams have more than a point or two to prove. Once again the Lions have not maintained consistency in their quality of play. They now possess their best chance to topple Kandy, given the coaching staff changes at Kandy.
Further the fact that Kandy lost their last game could be put to greater psychological advantage by the Lions. However a redeeming feature for Kandy is that they will play at home in front of several of their doting fans and that can be an uphill task for any visiting side to overcome.
(The writer can be reached via email@example.com.)