St Peter’s came out with confidence against Isipathana on Saturday the 9th but went out limping with some unimaginative play. Though they started off well the ball was dropped at crucial times. Both sides opted to kick the ball which was put up and down 60 times. With 31 scrums and 30 line outs and 30 penalties I leave it you to work out how long he ball has been in play. The kicks were more speculative than aimed to exert pressure and get past the goal line. The ball handling is an area both teams will have to brush up if they are to be contenders.
Complacency has no place in the game and one has to focus till the whistle is blown. Pathana took a kick at goal virtually on time for the whistle at half time. The kick was missed and the ball was bouncing into in goal. The Peter’s defense took things lightly and the Pathana boys who followed touched down before the Petes. The turn around I believe was here.
A thought to the coaches who believe a slap here and there at half time is how you get about. This is a time to reinforce, maybe even reshuffle, your team's strategies and tactics. This is a time to motivate the players, give them the best opportunity to absorb information. Let them recover whilst taking on water. To deliver slap on the face or a punch on the head is not a productive effort and players are not motivated b y such antics.
|Action at the St.Peter’s-Isipathana match . Pic by Ranjith Perera
When St Joseph’s beat Trinity the questions asked the previous week were: How did that happen? Did Trinity play bad rugby? Did the referee mess up the game? Last week at Reid Avenue the rugby put on display by the Joes was not that of a champion side. The question asked by many was “How did they beat Trinity”? With Kingswood and St Joseph’s taking the fields in Colombo for the first time I spotted most coaches as well those who are involved in advising come to watch this match. . Probably gone home convinced that Kingwood will be a side to watch? The Joes does not present much to be worried about. That will help the Joes as teams will underrate a talented side which was drifting aimless. Leave it to the boys. They will learn by experience.
Where and at what time did the Joes lose the Match? I would think they lost the match even before they got onto the field. Kingswood won the match as the Joes were unable to consolidate in the first few minutes. The two scoring opportunities they got went begging. Kingswood capitalized to get 11 point lead at the end of the first half. They consolidated their victory in the second half seeing the holes in the defense.
The Joes appeared as though they were not sure of the expectation in the position they played. The backs were not in place to defend. The third row did not seal or act to sweep as the line failed to stop the onward assault. Simply, there were bodies that were cast into roles without the considering suitability or the training in the skills.
A back division whose handling was weak and kicking poor. An unfit within the apex of the forwards playing a pivotal role does not help when you are aiming to play with the forwards. They played close as they started but could not score despite being within ten metres of the goal line. The pick up and the landing over the goal line were all wrong. The third row did not have that special requirement that makes them special: speed, mobility fitness and aggression in attack and defense, balls skills etc. With hands on the hip meandering around they were unable to provide the oil to keep momentum in attack and in defense. Neither did they do the dirty work in defense as the threes kept dropping the ball, missing tackles or made a valiant unsuccessful attempt to kick the ball.
The only time I saw a quick burst through the gap, lateral movement, explosive steps and hitting the defense line at speed was when a change was made in the third row. That was when the game was almost over. The difference was a score. The number eight No. 8 is the virtual captain. Why? Because of the amount of communication the position calls for, it lends itself to leadership. The point is that you can really make a difference if you communicate with your half back and work on some moves, support the back line and be seen with ball in hand running the ball up a lot and delivering clean ball via a pass or well presented maul or ruck. This is what I found missing and should have been realized twenty minutes into the game.
Realizing what the Joes were up to the Kingswood boys moved the ball wide and ran to the corner. They kicked the ball with purpose away from the full back and explored vacant spaces. The threes ran through creating problems to an already confused three quarter line. Thus they ran away with a huge score in their bag. It is just that the side won were the better side as they were organized, had the skills and proved that rugby is a thinking game. It was not just a bunch of hulks but a team who could outthink.
= Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB