The schools’ league is rolling out new numbers as for a lottery. Besides Isipathana, who has one match to play in Segment ‘B’ and Royal, who have finished their games in Segment ‘A’, the fight for the second slot continues. Trinity, who have completed their matches, and St. Joseph’s eye the second slot in Segment ‘A’, while Wesley and Vidyartha compete for the second slot in segment ‘B’. It will boil down to bonus points to decide on the two teams.
Pathana has a solid chance of winning the League as they remain unbeaten, winning five matches. They will probably end round one with 27 points if they beat Vidyartha. If they can beat either of the two Segment ‘A’ teams and claim six wins, then the league title will be theirs. All other teams must win both games to take the Cup to their abode.
Insensitivity to player welfare was seen again during the Wesley vs St. Peter’s match. The problem is the appointment of a match day doctor who is not conversant with the requirements of the World Rugby medical protocols. The inability to assess a head injury resulted in the referee using law 3.22 to determine that the player cannot be allowed to play. The coaching staff tend to argue with the referee that the doctor has passed the player fit to play. The desire to discuss and send an injured player has happened a few times.
Law 22c. The referee decides (with or without medical advice) that it would be inadvisable for the player to continue, and the referee orders that player to leave the playing area.
It is necessary for all schools, and especially the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association, to understand the importance of player welfare.
St Joseph’s vs Royal
The much-awaited match between Royal and St Joseph’s decided the leaders of Segment ‘A’. Royal took the honours by winning 17 points to 3. They lead Segment ‘A’ with 23 points.
It turned out to be a battle of tactics, and Royal were fortunate, while the Joes were disabled. For almost 40 minutes the Joes had to contend with a seven-man formation at the scrum, denying the opportunity for Naveen Marasinghe to contribute to the score as he did in previous matches. If numbers in a team are fewer than 15, Under-19 law states variation requires balancing the pack at a scrum. Confronted with a 3-4 formation, the Joes were at a disadvantage. They were unable to score despite dominating territory in the second half.
Tactically aware, Royal shifted the smaller built number 9 to the wing and brought in the wing three-quarter to strengthen the defence at the breakdown.
Dushan Lewke, the Royal Coach, out-hooked the astute Josephian Nilfer Ibrahim. Thus, Royal leads the table in Segment A.
Having lost a bonus point in the Trinity match, Joes need a win with a bonus point to join Royal.
Wesley vs St Peter’s
This match was a critical fixture for Wesley if they were to progress to qualify in Segment ‘B’. Wesley led up to the last minute, only to see their progress to the next round hampered as their last minute try which was not converted levelled scores at 17 all. SPC (3T 1C) to Wesley (2T 1C 1 P)
Both sides were kept making unforced errors and were not disciplined in their approach to the game. The discussed wrong reason this week is the question of a throw that was not straight. Wesley College have lodged a request for a review to the schools’ section; not that a review would change the decision of the match.
S. Thomas’ vs SACK
S. Thomas’ registered their first win of the season beating St. Anthony’s Katugastota by 32 points to 25. At half time STC had a comfortable lead of 18 points to 10.
On resumption, SACK were the first to score and the scores read 18-13. STC struck again through converted tries to increase their lead to 32-13. SACK played with one player less – pushed to the bin. Match went on with the tempo rising tempo when a STC player was shown a card.
In the last ten minutes, showing more fighting spirit, SACK scored twice and came within striking distance when the final whistle was blown. STC 32 (4T 3C 1P); SACK 25 (3T 2C 2P)
Vidyartha vs Science College
New hope was rekindled as Vidyartha beat Science College by 13 points (2T 1P) to 9 (3P). For Vidyartha it was their third win in a row having beaten St. Peter’s Dharmaraja and now Science. Having surprised St. Peter’s, they are now a serious threat to Wesley as contender for the second slot in Segment ‘B’.
Science stepped up the pressure as the game reached the last 1O minutes. However, Vidyartha put up a strong defense and repulsed the Science attack to end the game as winners.
Kingswood vs Trinity
Trinity pounced on a helpless Kingswood side beating them by 53 points to 06.
Isipthana vs Dharmaraja
Pathana continued their unbeaten record as they beat Dharmaraja by 26 points to 12.
By Vimal Perera