Maid of honor

Singer schools rugby league 2019- penultimate week


Some are forever destined to be the maid of honor. Try as they may and often, the harder they do, the worse off they are. Even at times of her glamorous life, the likes of Kim Kardashian admitted to this until eventually, striking the jackpot or so we are told.

Just when it seemed like last year’s bridesmaid from that memorable three-way rugby wedding, Royal, St Peter’s and St Joseph’s– the latter, who would finally get their shot at the honeymoon suite, an adversary in waiting pulls the veil right off her face. In a most cruel blow, as if fate had it, relegated to the status of twisted sister. Yet again.

On the positive side, all-but assured a top three finish, they now have a chance to claim some of that disputed dowry from the yesteryear, albeit by beating the potential groomsman at “Jurassic park”, in what promises to be a champagne finale.

Royal, the defending champion with a small mountain to climb, needing a 4-try bonus point victory, will have a claim to stake and do it in style, looking for three in a row. A trifecta of season propers.

That hat trick– being the much vaunted and brag worthy “league” title. The Singer schools league for this year. SSL 2019.

Royal are once again closing a league title

St Peter’s who have had a charmed run at their newly christened home, a majestic facility worthy in its stature to show off to any potential in laws, were handed a life line at the eleventh hour. An inglorious Josephian error and it was gifted on a platter. That said, they were good enough to gobble it up with glee.

A simple penalty goal meant that the bride to be in Joes (yet again) had to retreat to the mezzanine suite, biting on a satin pillow for a night full of crying. It would have been heartbreaking stuff and you can’t help but feel for them as their 69-minute effort deserved so much more.

On the other side of town, Royal and Isipathana fought out a very strange sort of game where a contagious case of yellow fever reined and ruined, what should have been a very competitive fixture.

Royal, for their part looked jaded, tired and decided to shift into third gear, 3 or so minutes from the finish. Making their numerical advantage count and sealing the game with a wiseman’s try out wide. Forgoing the usual, one out one back, pick and go and finally releasing an otherwise shelved playing pattern. Pathana only made it easy for them with some brain-dead rugby. Kicking aimlessly and looking to take it up front against a far bigger forward pack. A strange sort of currency.

It was straight out of X files. A mystery which left most of their fans baffled. On that quizzical note, here are four key footnotes from the weekends “strange” yet exciting happenings.

1.The numbers game

It’s a simple yet not so simple equation. Given that St Peter’s bested Joes and Royal swung their corner to move within six points (table score and a bonus point win) of winning an unprecedented back to back to back, hat trick of league titles. The easiest scenario which will save everyone a mind bender is if Royal march on and beat Joes to score 4+ tries in the process. Then the title is all theirs. Simple.

If not, please see below:

If, Royal win and fail to obtain a bonus point, then Peter’s and Royal will be all tied up at 45 points apiece. On head to head play, Peter’s will be declared champions, having beaten Royal in round one by 12 points to 8.

Teams that could finish runners up are St. Peter’s, Royal or St. Joseph’s. If Joes beat Royal next week and deprive Royal of 2 losing bonus points (Royal don’t score 4 tries and lose by more than 7 points) then Joes will take the runners up spot yet again, if they finish equal… a photo finish tips Joes home.

So, in theory, all equations are possible and all questions will be answered next Saturday.

  1. Ace out of place (and position)

A most significant lesson in understanding your key men on the field occurred in the Saints derby. Fate had it that, it had to be the most decisive and most telling play of them all. You guessed it, the last hurrah.. or gift. See it whichever way you want to.

This is why analysis is an expert’s job and not for wannabes or pretenders.

Several weeks ago, on my #straightup video segment, I picked my form XV after the first round. I had Josephian ace Tharindu Maduranga picked on the wing. Reasons being: his speed and style of play, based on my video watch analysis clearly suggested that to be his position. A winger, instead of his second five role with Joes. I had instead, picked Trinitian Harsha Samarasinghe. Maduranga is a gun runner and not the best ball carrying option.

Fast forward to this Saturday past at Bamba for the very last play. Madusanka is thrust into the mid field as a carrying option, taking a pass from his half back to shut out the game. He does take it forward but given that it isn’t his strong suit, gets isolated and gives away the match winning penalty. To make matters worse, it is right under the posts. That was the goose cooked.

It was all that Peter’s needed and with it, gifting them a victory from the saliva-soaked jaws of certain defeat. A lotto first division ticket and ironically, they will now want Joes to hand them the power ball-jackpot. Defeat Royal and the title goes to St Peter’s.

3.Yellow fever and a pocketless trouser

Surprise, surprise. Here comes my biggest bug bear of an otherwise, intriguing weekend. Yellow cards. Unfortunately, it was the colour of choice and it dominated both key games. To make matters worse, at least one incident which was outright, reckless foul play got the same color as other, majority– innocuous offences. An aerial challenge where there was no attempt to attack the ball but instead, took out the legs of the airborne player. It should have been a straight red.

So, rather than go off on a tangent and harp on about the ridiculousness of the others, let’s look at the numbers.  

SSL 2019 R2 WK 5 Yellow cards #stats_pert

Team Yellows Total minutes
Royal 2 20
Isipathana 4 40
St Peter’s 1 10
St Joseph’s 1 10
Total 8 80

Clearly, the Green Machine were the worst affected with an incredible 12 v 15 situation in the closing stages of the Milroy Fernando trophy.

Cumulatively, all four teams shared a staggering 8 cards or 80 minutes of rugby where there was at least one man in the bin. That is one full game plus another 10 minutes. I for one am very biased towards not issuing cards and am of the belief that it should be saved for outright foul play or very cynical offences. Have a look at the weekend’s highlight reel and decide for yourself.

Bottom line- be it right or wrong, yellow fever is having a very negative and regressive effect on ALL games. Every time there is any form of significant contact, I get nervous as to what the next outcome will be. Coaches might as well ask players to curb big hits as it’s now simply not worth the risk.

  1. Bottled attack or vintage in waiting?

Royal are now one game away from winning their third league title on the trot. As if you didn’t know that– it’s the third time I stated it this piece.  

An unprecedented level of success which they have built on an ability to ruck recycle like how Japanese do everyone else’s rubbish.

As time has elapsed, especially towards the last 4 months of rugby, several teams have figured out how to defend this ruthless and overbearing pattern. None more so than how St Peter’s, the team who have now done their part and are waiting for the T-Rex to falter at Jurassic park.

Then, upon resumption, Royal came out firing with a differently delightful style of rugby. Suffocate with close in hit ups and then widen the point of attack for fast ball– going for width on the wings. A 17-point hiding of Trinity ensued when this methodology was employed. Then, strangely enough, it all got bottled up and they went back to their tried and tested.

Fast forward to the last 4 minutes of the Pathana game, aided by 3 opposition players in the bin, they resorted to a wide attack and scored at will. That said they were still cruising on third gear.

So, the question is… given that they need a four try victory, will they go for broke and shift through the gears from the get go or will they pick and choose their moments? The answer to that will be given next week but let me finish by saying this, should they choose to rocket into higher revs early up, Joes will stand little to no chance against a rampant beast, roaring at home. This is what my form line says and the numbers are ominous.

The premonition:

So, …one party at the altar is now all stitched up. That being St Peter’s. Question is, will they be the bride or dominate the whole wedding and play the role of the groom?. That now, is out of their hands. It is a case of who and in what form this threesome- a monsoon like wedding will see it’s end for season 2019.

I don’t envy Joes at the moment and putting any bias aside, given that Royal have drawn home advantage, an almost Hilton ballroom like scenario, the Darley road team is in a precarious situation. A hiding to nothing.

Coming off a loss and wanting to salvage their season, in an almost, sister of the bride situation– waiting to pounce on the flower bouquet. St. Peter’s are about to toss it high and handsome and with some panache. The flower bouquet, that is.

Joes will have to throw the kitchen sink (and the dish water) at Royal. Attack from the very outset and out-wide.

It’s a punt worth taking for Joes but if it all goes wrong, end up either face first on the dance floor or even going over the canal. Bride, bridesmaid or maid of honor?. This looks set to be the heartbreaking story of the year…or, will it?. Either way it’s set for an honourable finish.