The Green Machine strolled out and shifted into another gear. Again. Third, to be frank, but it
had plenty of horsepower. The day before St Patrick’s day, a sea of Green made Mt Lavinia
(Science College park) their own. It was a beautiful thing as they found their full voice both on
On that note let’s take a quick look at five key footnotes from my expert notebook.
Trinity in their quest for Bradby glory undertook an extensive tour to Wellington, New Zealand.
Clearly, based on their playing patterns, it has paid dividends. In this process, they have
unearthed a real gem of a speed merchant who has plenty of rugby sense. A true rarity. His
name is Geeshapa Kulathunge.
“Geesh lightening” as I like to refer to him, is gifted with torque. His athleticism allows him to
accelerate from zero to about 30 clicks an hour in next to no time. The results are of course all
too exciting. He burns would be tacklers at will. A rare ability to maneuver within a very confined space and step them aside, has certainly been eye-catching.
First, it was Pathana and then St Anthony’s Kandy in the 61st and 65th minute out wide. He’s
got the skills which are silky smooth like John Travolta’s hair and no doubt, there will be at least
one Olivia Newton-John– cheering from the stands.
My advice to TCK– unleash the Geesh.
As the new entrant to the top flight, it has been a pulverizing three weeks for the Devans. All
they have been are whipping boys for three of the top teams so far. Royal put 62, then it was
Wesley with 50 and now, St Peter’s with a thumping 82. A total of 194 points in 3 games,
averaging 64.6 points against per game.
That’s also, 9.23 converted tries against, per game.
An absolute horror start and I can’t help but feel sorry for their plight. It is probably wrong in the sense that promoting a team which has less than a tenth of the budget of what the top schools have, drawing them first up only to get obliterated.
I understand that it is how the draw works but maybe it’s time to change and allow the new
promotee an easier draw first up. Helping them to progressively step in where they have a better chance of survival. A possible handicapping system where they are given a shot at what now looks like climbing Mount Everest.
For example, based on my current form analysis and rating system, Maliyadeva would have
fared way better and had a decent chance versus Zahira, first up. Instead, they drew Royal, the
defending champs at “Jurassic Park”. Maybe going bottom up for the new kid on the block
would have been the way to go.
Promoting a team out of town for the sole purpose of false form lines and tub-thumping will not help the game in any form or shape.
Progressive form and Pathana power play(er)s
No team in this schools rugby season proper has displayed as much promise and panache as
Isipathana have. From week one, they have stepped on the gas at will and turned every corner
at speed, managing to always stay on course. Providing thrill a minute rugby to an expectant
They have excellent running backs (as always), good clean ruck recycle and efficiency, great
discipline in holding patterns with ball presentation and above all– patience and a second five who conducts the green orchestra, Manilka Ruberu. The league’s No 1 power player.
Everything he and his team do is progressive. The numbers back it up. Especially, their run
meters per try off a set play, it improves at a staggering 5% for the first 3 weeks– week on week.
What that means, starting week 1 till now, every game, off either a scrum or line out, when they score a try, the average meters they run it as a team per try improves by about 5%. Covering more ground with ball in hand, progressively. This further means they spend more time with the ball being LIVE in play and in their hands.
A team such as this spending more time and phases with the ball in hand will mean one thing.
More tries and more points. An average of 5% per 70 minutes from week 1 -2 to 3 (source:
statspert). A classic hallmark of high-quality sides. Preseason, as I named them my value
runner or “dark horse”, they had my curiosity. Well, guess what, they now have everyone’s full
To kick or not or just plain, can’t kick?
The one bright shining light in the recently concluded DRL or club premiership rugby league was
Samuel Maduwantha and his 200 points. The majority of which came by way of his boot. A
cannon of a kicking foot and dropping a couple of monster drop goals from out deep. He was all class, just like when playing for SACK.
Unfortunately, yet, this season, we are waiting with baited breath to see goal kickers or just a
single one arrive on the schools scene. No one has. It seems to be an area which almost all
teams and their coaches have neglected or are not very good at coaching.
Given that the average penalty count per game stands at about 16, there is every chance that
converting 25% of that would (12 points) be a game changer. As the tighter finishes loom, it will
be the difference between the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat.
We are seeing far too many teams decline a shot at goal and end up with no points from their
chosen strategy. Kicking to touch where they find no touch or lose the next set play, a line out in most cases only to butcher 3 points.
My advice: take the shot. Even if you miss it, you will kick receive off a 22 drop out. Remember
last year’s St Peter’s loss to St Joseph’s? Get my point?
After a less than convincing win in the Michael Gunarathne against S Thomas’ at their very own
dust bowl by the sea, Royal was keen to leave that diluted performance at home. It was like a
watered down glass of Royal Salute, further done over by melting ice.
Wesley, came in to the game on the back of history from last year in a close shave for the Reid
Avenue mob. They would have felt bullish about an “upset”. Cut a long story short, it didn’t quite happen.
Royal looked a bit underdone and made some errors. This invited Wesley back into the game
as their playmaker, Zubair peppered the right-hand corner and pinned Royal in their 22. After
some back and forth, Royal got their ruck-recycle into play and scored a few stunning tries. The
most attractive being when Kevin Samarasekara circled the globe after 15 phases and went
under the posts. They looked impregnable as they got their close quarter game in full swing.
Pick and go and dominate possession.
Eventually, the weather intervened and the heavens opened. The playing surface went from a
good 3 to a heavy 11 just like that. Royal looked like they were in total control but a few errors
and casual missed tackles allowed Wesley back in it. Zubair was at it again. His inside ball- try
assist, set up the try of the game, allowing for the grand canyon to part. It was a beauty, straight off a set piece/ scrum.
It made for a great game and the scoreline is a big misleading. What was supposed to be and
looked for all money a Royal Rumble, ended in what was a muddy and wobbly, Royal fumble.
Play of the day:
Wesley’s 67th minute try off a set piece as they set their backs in motion. It was heavy but it
didn’t matter. Like a good wet track galloper, their winger went over untouched. It was a well
rehearsed set piece which put a smile on everyone’s face. Okay, maybe not the Royal
Hero of the day:
Vidyartha. That’s right. This team has been making some noise in the B division and keeps
racking up the points. Another 70 point demolition of CWW Kannagara. It was quite a display
and I expect them to make it to the A division in the near future.
Three weeks in and a clearer picture of a form line is starting to emerge. If I were to paint a
colored circle to highlight where everyone is at, the dominant color would be Green. Followed by Blue and gold with a splatter of blue and white. Progression is the key word with some greater than others. Early days still but there’s enough data to start looking towards the end. An
imminent Pathana V Royal clash suggests a winner with both Saints wanting to have their say.