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‘Boks’ come out to play!

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by Rajitha Ratwatte

The second game in the final round of the rugby championship takes precedence as far as reporting goes for the simple reason that it was one of the best games of Rugby union seen in a long time. The Springbok – All Black rivalry is legendary, and this game was second to none. The referee Mathew Carley of England was up to the task and kept a firm hold on the game, made good decisions on the field and got sucked in by insidious professional fouls only as often as the situation warranted when making decisions at speed.

 The Africans opened scoring with some slick handling of the ball by Lukhanyo Am (no13) sending their no 12 Damian de Allende over mid-right. Handre Pollard couldn’t convert and 0–5. Jordie Barret pulled a penalty back for the ABs’ from far left of the field 3–5. The ABs’ conceded another kickable penalty soon enough (as was the situation through the game) taking the score to 3–8. Willie Le Roux had a forgettable game for the ‘Boks dropping the ball off the next kick off and giving the Abs’ a good attacking position which they capitalised on when Seevu Reece went over the line in spite of brilliant cover defence from no 8 Vermeulen. Only five points and the scores tied up eight all. The first scrum of the game took place in the 18th minute and the ‘Bok tight five began to dominate and complement the great work of their third row with skipper Salesi playing his usual inspirational game. Akira Ioane was pinged for offside right in front of the posts and gifted another three points to Pollard and the lead to the Africans 8–11. The ABs’ picked up the pace of the game and this was the only period in which they seemed to have the Springboks on the back foot. Ardie Savea went over the line with a rather dramatic dive off a break made by Rikko Ioane with Seevu Reece joining the line and covering good ground. Jordie Barret converted, and the All Blacks were back in the lead 15–11. At this stage we were into 30 minutes of the first half and Jordie Barret broke the Springbok line covered good ground and the Blacks won a line out on the ‘Bok throw (a very rare occasion in this game) and Brad Webber wormed his way over the line and scored extreme left. The kick was too much for the youngest Barret and the score read 20–11.

The Africans regained their dominance of the line out and Handre Pollard’s boot brought them back into the game 20–14. We were just five minutes from halftime and the ‘Boks replaced their entire front row! A tactic not seen before and the commencement of what was prove to be total dominance by the ‘Bok tight five in all aspects of the game. A notable happening just before halftime was the referee giving the South African “water boy” a severe dressing down for attempting to intimidate the touch judge by chasing after him and yelling at him and trying to influence a decision.

The second half started with another penalty conceded to the Africans taking the score to 20–17. The renewed energy and commitment shown by the Africans in the second half was not matched by the ABs’ and even Beauden Barret seemed to be suffering from what can only be described as a “brain freeze” when he forgot the 50–22 rule which is being trialled and conceded a line out throw to the ‘Boks.! (When a kick made by the team in their own half lands in the field of play and goes out inside the opposition 22, the team who kicked the ball is rewarded with a line out.)

The All Black defence was caught out of position by probing kicks and even guilty of simply watching and conceding territory. The ‘Boks went back into the lead after a scrum penalty won by them was turned into three points by Pollard 20–22. There was some rather “sophisticated” lying on players by the ‘Boks in loose play that fooled the referee for a while but either with or without off-field help he got onto it, but only after a couple of penalties were awarded. One such penalty resulted in a further extension of the lead to 20–25. A late tackle to Jordie Barret resulted in three points off his boot and the All Blacks got within two points 23–25. Another penalty taken by the youngest Barret in the 73rd minute took the ABs’ back into the lead 26–25 but there wasn’t time for spectators to even think before Elton Jantjies on as a sub for Pollard slotted a drop goal and took the ‘Boks’ back in front 26–28. The ‘Boks were playing under a penalty advantage and the commentators wondered if this was actually a mistake as they could have run the clock down further if the place kick was taken. With around two minutes remaining in the game, Jordie Barret got a chance to try and repeat history with a penalty and he duly obliged 29–28 to the New Zealanders. Elton almost ruined his brilliant drop goal by fluffing the kick-off and conceding a 50-meter scrum to the ABs’ with less than a minute to go. However, the dominance of the African tight five prevailed, they won a penalty gained territory and the New Zealanders who seem to concede a penalty every time for their defenders coming up too soon and being caught offside did so again giving the substitute no 10 a golden opportunity to win the game for his side with an unmissable penalty right in front of the sticks. He did what was expected and the side with the better forwards won a real “humdinger” of a game of Rugby Football 29–31.

 The old adage in golf when one “drives for show but putts for dough” when translated into Rugby parlance should read something like “backs are for show but the tight five make things glow”! The presence of Sam Whitelock, Dan Coles (unknown reasons) and the early exit due to injury of Scott Barret were sadly missed and the team with superior commitment and on-field nouse (ability to think on their feet) won a game that removed many doubts about the South Africans’ right to be ranked among the top teams in the world.

fromoutsidethepearl@gmail.com



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FIBA conducts basketball communication workshop in Colombo

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Hovsep Seraydarian, FIBA Communications Manager conducted a Digital Communication and Media Workshop in Colombo over the weekend. He’s seen here in conversation with SLBF President Aelian Gunawardene, General Secretary Chandana Liyanage, CEO Asanga Amaratunga and Senior Vice President Paul Newman.

Basketball’s parent body, FIBA conducted a Digital Communication and Media Workshop in Colombo over the weekend. Hovsep Seraydarian, Communications Manager, Asia conducted the Workshop.

Several aspects of promoting the sport through social and mainstream media were discussed during the workshop.

Under the vibrant leadership of Sri Lanka Basketball Federation’s new president Aelian Gunawardene, the game is reaching new heights and the workshop will help SLBF to promote the game among players, fans and the general public.

Three years ago, FIBA’s domain id changed from fiba.com to fiba.basketball. The parent body has encouraged national federations to obtain this unique identity. Sri Lanka has now secured this unique domain name. This is an online unification of basketball under a common domain. www.srilanka.basketball is under construction and traffic will be diverted into the new web.

As an immediate step, SLBF could now be contacted via office@srilanka.basketball and key office bearers and functions are given .basketball mailing addresses for better communication.

“It was a pleasure to sit in on a Strategic Session on Marketing Sri Lanka basketball conducted by Hovsep Seraydarian,” SLBF President Aelian Gunawardene said.

“We are proud to be the first sporting body in Sri Lanka to have its own online identity as @srilanka.basketball and to have a better understanding of the latest marketing concepts in International sports marketing. The new SLBF Committee and I are very keen to make Sri Lanka Basketball all about the players and not about the administration. We hope to convey this clearly too,” Gunawardene added.

“It was indeed a very successful workshop with lot of case studies and interactive sessions,” SLBF General Secretary Chandana Liyanage said.

“More importantly we learned how to organize the SLBF digital marketing and communication for future activities. We are going to apply these learning into practice in the upcoming events such as SABA Men’s Championship in Dhaka, Junior Nationals Championship and the 53rd Senior National Championship over the next three months.

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Air Force judokas to leave for World Military Judo Championships

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Sri Lanka Air Force judokas will leave for World Military Judo Championship on Wednesday.

The 40th World Military Judo Championship is scheduled to be held in Paris, France this month. Ten judoka’s from the Sri Lanka Air Force and Sergeant Nuwan Attanayake who is an international judo referee is scheduled to leave the island on October 27 for the event. The Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana conveyed his best wishes to the participants and wished them all success during the championship.

Olympian Chamara Dharmawardhane (73 Kg Weight Category), who is a Corporal in the Air Force, Leading Aircraftman Suraj Arachchi (81 Kg Weight Category), Leading Aircraftman Gayan Abeysinghe (100 Kg Weight Category) together with Corporal Prabhath Gunadasa and Leading Aircraftman Irfan Osman are the Airmen who will be participating at this event. Corporal Prarthanaa Sandmali (48 Kg Weight Category), Corporal Seedevi (70 Kg Weight Category), Corporal Ganisha Lakmali (78 Kg Weight Category), Leading Aircraftwoman Nadeeshani Fonseka (52 Kg Weight Category) and Leading Aircraftwoman Iresha Chathurangani (63 Kg Weight Category) are the Airwomen taking part.

Chamara Dharmawardhane who represented Sri Lanka at the last two Olympics will be the captain of the team. Air Vice Marshal Ravindra Liyanagamage is the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Air Force Judo while Group Captain Manoj Galappaththi is the Secretary. Squadron Leader Thushara Hettiarachchi is the Head Coach of SLAF Judo team.

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Asalanka: Excellent find moving forward

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Charith Asalanka was Sri Lanka’s hero in their win over Bangladesh in Sharjah.

Rex Clementine in Dubai

Although results have not gone in Sri Lanka’s favour, several young players have stamped their authority in international cricket this year. First, there was Pathum Nissanka, hundred on debut in the Caribbean. Then there was Praveen Jayawickrama, a rich haul of wickets on debut against Bangladesh. In September, Maheesh Theekshana announced his arrival at the big stage with his mystery spin. In the T-20 World Cup, following Sri Lanka’s stunning run chase against Bangladesh in Sharjah, the cricketing fraternity is speaking of Charith Asalanka.

Not many know about Asalanka’s past; an impressive one. Here’s a bit that would interest our readers.

Charith Asalanka is a bright student. His schooling was at Ananda Vidyalaya, Elpitiya. He passed the Grade Five scholarship with flying colours and chose to shift to Richmond College, Galle, a cricketing powerhouse.

An opening batsman in his school days, Asalanka first represented Richmond ‘B’ team and the coaching staff was impressed with what he had to offer and fast-tracked him to the First XI team. Apart from being a prolific run-scorer, Asalanka has a good head above his shoulders and became the obvious choice for captain.

Richmond under him were stunning, picking up all awards in school cricket while the captain was setting the benchmark as the team’s leading scorer. In Richmond, scoring 1000 runs in the season or taking 100 wickets is not paramount. What is important is winning matches and titles. That mentality Richmondites like Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Dhananjaya de Silva have taken onto the Sri Lankan dressing room as well. That’s a good sign.

Asalanka once scored a double hundred in a one-dayer in school cricket. By 16 he was playing First-Class cricket representing Galle CC and had his maiden first-class hundred the same year. He won the schoolboy cricketer of the year award twice.

The manner in which Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa completed the run chasse was impressive. A good back foot player who seems comfortable playing fast bowling, he had too much on his plate when Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando departed for one and without scoring.

First, he shared a 69 run stand for the second wicket with Pathum Nissanka to steady the ship and then followed the fireworks with Bhanuka Rajapaksa in a record stand of 86 runs.

Asalanka finished unbeaten on 80 while Bhankua was dismissed for 53 but by that time the job had been done and Sri Lanka had cut Bangladesh to size.

There were some elegant strokes during the partnership and calculated risks taken by both batters. Fortune favoured the brave. Very cleverly the duo refrained from taking undue risks when Mustafizur Rahman, Bangladesh’s premier bowler was operating.

Sri Lanka are overjoyed that both Bhanuka and Asalanka are firing. Their pace looks awesome and spinners will have a field day when there is some assistance on the track. KJP and Avishka will come good at any time and they are looking formidable especially with number three and five firing on all cylinders.

At the post match media briefing, Bhanuka was generous with his praise of Asalanka. “The result is phenomenal because the way Charith handled the situation and how he kept the tempo of the game is unbelievable. It’s not easy playing at number three at a time we were struggling to find a proper number three batsman,” explained Bhanuka.

“I’ve batted number three and it’s not an easy position because you need to play with the scoreboard pressure mostly. Chasing 172 runs when we lost KJP early it was a massive blow. Charith has a bright future and I wish him all the best and I hope he will be performing like this throughout the tournament.”

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