The HSC/Navy encounter proved to be an anticlimax. With HSC being crowned league champions the week before, the quality of rugby from them was somewhat lacklustre. It appeared that both sides were resigned to the fact that the outcome of the game was inconsequential to the league winners and as such the levels of enthusiasm were at a low ebb.
HSC had done a few changes to their line up maybe in a bid to given the bench some valuable match practice. Despite it being the fag end of the league season, there were some pretty basic errors made by both sides. These inter alia included the non-releasing of the ball once tackled, hand in the ruck and the fact that the #8 did not appear to be bound even on one own put in.
The kicks to touch in order to gain territorial advantage by far was good by both sides and the fielding of the high ball was a treat to watch although at times the technique was not what is contained in the coaching manual.
Attempting to catch the ball with it appearing over your right shoulder is generally fraught with more risks than one. However, ever so often we see this trend where the unorthodox style of an individual has had the opposition somewhat perplexed. The expatriate players from both sides are a class act and time and again their brilliance on the field of play was a joy to watch.
The Navy #8 gave a good account of himself and time and again made valuable yards with his breaks from the base of the scrum. He did this on a number of occasions and the fact that the opposition flanker failed to bring him down is definitely a cause for concern. With a little bit of support from his team mates, these incisive runs into the opposition territory could have resulted in points on the board.
Over the past few games there has been a stand out player for the Havies by way of Shenal. He appears to be a great asset to the side and quick on his feet whilst also being a forager for hard work. He would in my book be my player of the day.
On a number of occasions I have mentioned that the two assistant referees must add value to the game by being an extra pair of eyes to the referee. In certain games we see that the officials on duty are wired up and on certain occasions they are not. The authorities need to take a stance on this issue and agree as to whether their officials are to be wired or not. In the Navy game they were not and the number of lapses that was spotted by the crowd was high.
There is a concern as to whether these assistant referees are competent and in my view those on display at the Navy game were clearly not. If they were competent I cannot for a moment imagine how so many infringements during the game could go unnoticed unless they were deliberately missed or the eyesight of these officials are poor.
In either case, the authorities need to wake up from their deep slumber and take appropriate corrective action. Relegation of referee D Nimal to the ‘B’ division and the stepping down of Cader voluntarily are steps in the right direction.
It was indeed a pleasure to watch the Navy band in attendance and their performance at the half time break drew a loud and sincere applause, quite a refreshing change to having the resident DJ blast out a hit from the current pop charts. The papare band which was in full flow at the start of the game gradually petered out quite rightly sensing that a Navy victory was not forthcoming.
It is a known fact that success has many fathers whilst losses are always an orphan. This appears to be case with HSC as well. Everybody and anybody with some link to the club are now basking in the champion’s glory. There were many doubters in the ranks of the Havies so much so that they even leaked sensitive data to rival clubs.
I watched in fascination as these same individuals spoke about themselves standing by the club in the hour of need. Some of the unsung heroes of HSC are the coaching staff duo of Thusitha and Leonard, both of whom have been with the club through thick and thin.
Given that the HSC trophy cupboard has been bare for a considerable period of time, the whole of last week quite understandably was party time at the park club. My fervent hope is that they will remember to keep their feet on terra firma and be gracious and humble in this hour of triumph as a fall in the knock out stage could be doubly embarrassing.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)