Kandy SC did the unthinkable in Nittawela last Sunday by beating Havelocks SC, but the Park Club coach Ronnie Ibrahim believes his team has the potential to win the league this season.
Kandy SC proved a point during the seven weeks of rugby that no team can beat them at their home ground at Nittawela. This point might not have much significance when the second round begins because table leaders Havelocks SC will not be travelling outside Colombo during this part of the tournament.
Kandy SC won a thrilling game 39 points to 30, but their efforts didn’t help the reigning champs move even one place up from where they are slotted (Third place) in the points table. Havelocks remain on top and are trailed by Navy SC which beat Sri Lanka Air Force 22-8 at Ratmalana.
From a critical perspective, Havelocks suffered their first defeat this season. “Our players played well, but our three quarters need to improve 50% more,” said Ibrahim who added, “The forwards have done well and are playing as a unit.”
Ibrahim said that all teams will be playing harder during the second round. He expects most team to be strengthened with the inclusion of new players and also from additions coming their way from the national Under 20 squad.
Havelocks is still a favourite with the crowd and any coach will use this kind of spectator support as a weapon. “The Havelocks supporters are a great encouragement and have huge hope that we will win,” he said.
However, the former Sri Lanka rugby coach said that he would still stick to his old thinking of taking match by match. “I don’t want to put the players under any unwanted pressure. We are still a long way away from the Cup. This way of thinking has worked for me and my team,” he said.
The Havies coach termed skipper Dushmantha Priyadharshana as a capable leader and said that he had the support of everybody.
Ibrahim hailed technology being used in the game which has come in the form of a television match official (TMO) being present in certain selected games. However, he said that while the TMO was reviewing footage relating to an incident in the match, it would be good if spectators also were given an opportunity to witness the same with the aid of a
The second round of matches will begin on December 29 (Thursday) with a match between CH&FC and Havelocks SC which will be played in Colombo (Venue undecided yet). On December 30 (Friday), Police will scrum down with Navy at Welisara while Air Force will host CR&FC at Ratmalana. On December 31 (Saturday) Kandy host Army at Nittawela.