by Rajitha Ratwatte
The 100th All Black vs Springbok test match was played in Townsville to a sold-out stadium of 25,000 spectators. The referee from the UK Luke Peirce. The All Blacks started in style with Codie Taylor in the number two jersey making a great break off a long passage of play from the kick-off and sending Will Jordan over line mid-right. Jordie Barret converted 7–0 to the Kiwis in the first three minutes of the game. Two minutes later the Springboks triggered off what was going to be their game plan throughout the game with a high spiralling kick into the opposition 22 resulting in George Bridge being unable to collect clean and Sbu Nkosi (no 14) capitalising on the mistake and dotting down mid-right. Handre Pollard was unable to convert, and the score read 7–5 inside the first six minutes. That was it as far as running rugby and try-scoring went, as is to be expected when the South Africans’ call the shots and play to their preferences. The game was slowed down deliberately, and the referee probably used to this style of play from his Northern hemisphere background either chose not to react or simply didn’t do anything about the medical staff coming on almost after every single set-piece. The blood bin seemed to be a thing of the past and this combined with extremely slow forming up for lineouts was exactly how the ‘Boks wanted it to be.
The rest of the half consisted of a series of penalties mostly against the Kiwis for discernible and sometimes unfathomable reasons. The AB’s ball-handling left much to be desired and the ‘Bok forwards pack definitely had the edge in both the set pieces and in loose play. A yellow card dished out to the South African try-scorer almost on half time for what should in the opinion of many, been a penalty try as well the only notable feature in a very scrappy and largely forgettable half. The lead changed twice, and the Kiwis were unable to capitalize in being a man up for six minutes in the first half. The halftime score read 13–11 to the Blacks.
The second half saw the South African go into the lead on penalties again 13–14 until the 56th minute when the ABs finally took a kickable penalty having turned down two earlier and went ahead by 16–14. The Boks’ kicked one more 16–17 and the Blacks retaliated 19–17. The lead had changed six times in the game so far and the Black bench came on with Quentin Tupaea was able to force a turnover penalty in the closing minutes of the game and Jordie Barret stepped up and into the history books by slotting the kick from the extreme left of the field and around 40 meters out. A slim victory 19-17 but all you can expect when you allow the Springboks to play their brand of rugby!
This victory ensures a win in this year’s rugby championship to the All Blacks with a game to spare and retention of the freedom cup which is awarded for the series against South Africa. The Kiwis definitely missed some of their stars who had chosen to stay at home for personal family reasons and it is hoped that the likes of Mo’uanga, Smith, and Whitelock join the team for the forthcoming European tours.
When a team that has been holding on to the world champion of rugby union title for two years depending on a game plan that consists of high kicks and relying on the mistakes of the opposition and the vagaries of the referee to win, it does not bode well for the game. Rugby union may soon follow in the footsteps of Test cricket, into oblivion as a popular spectator sport.
The second game of the double header was the Australian Wallabies hosting the Argentinean Pumas. A definitely improved Australian team never looked in trouble against the Pumas and even on the few occasions that the Pumas looked dangerous their discipline let them down. The Australians owe a lot to their Pacifica players led by Taniela Tupou in the front row, Valetini at number eight and backs Samu Karevi and Marika Korombeiti, who have brought a new and exciting dimension to their game.
The final score was 27–8 to the Australians. Three goals (Korombeiti, Karevi and Kalloway) and two penalty conversions to one try from the Argentinian skipper Julian Motoya and a penalty.
“Players must study and maintain their game as well”- Niranjan
By A Special Sports Correspondent
Tennis coach Niranjan Cassie Chetty is a versatile personality. When he is not into coaching he is an avid reader and enjoys music. And above all what’s interesting about this man is that one can have an interesting chat with him because his interests in life and sport spread far and wide.
We know little about the people who contribute to players from ‘behind the curtain’. Niranjan is a coach who shuns the limelight and prefers his chargers to bask in the glory of success and take home the silverware and decorate their trophy cupboards.
This year he produced two national singles champions-Yasitha De Silva (Men’s Singles winner) and Anjalika Kurera (Women’s Singles winner). These feats were recorded at the 106th Tennis Nationals worked off recently.
During an interview Niranjan had with ‘The Island’ newspaper he spoke about the importance of balancing both studies and sport in a country like Sri Lanka. This he said is important because in Sri Lankan school and university players don’t get any aid as concessions where classroom education is concerned. He cited Yasitha De Silva’s journey in tennis and said that the champion had a hard time balancing his studies and the sport and before emerging as the national champion and also completing his degree at the Colombo University.
“In other countries players at university can attend training in the mornings and then do some home studies where education is concerned. This helps immensely when players are training for international competitions and training is demanding,” said Niranjan who had played competitive tennis during his young days.
Niranjan opined that it would be ideal for the Sri Lanka Tennis Association, Sports Ministry and the Education Ministry to come together and have an arrangement for the national tennis players so that they can pursue education in a flexible manner which doesn’t hinder their training.
Niranjan advises strongly against taking a break for studies because staying away from tennis for a year or so can really jeopardize a career. “When you are around 16 years of age players are forced out of the tennis court due to academic commitments and this can be costly in terms of seeing a drop in performance. After age 16 players start their A Levels and some move on to university and this reduces time spent on the court which eventually causes a drop in volume in the players,” he explained. His advice is to not take that break from the game and move to another level where individual capacity is concerned; regarding handling studies and sport. “They have to study and maintain their game as well” he underscored.
He rues the fact that the game was severely affected by the pandemic when the entire world experienced Corona. “But I think the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) managed the difficult time well and we were able to have some tennis and even take part in international competitions. The SLTA allowed three players and one coach in the court in 2020 during training. I downloaded some training apps and we were able to retain the condition of players to a certain extent. But overall it was an opportunity lost,” he said.
As a coach he is concerned about the country losing talented players after age 16 to education. This leaves Sri Lanka with no other option, but to play junior players at the Davis Cup; where Sri Lanka is at present playing in Group 4. There have been occasions where Sri Lanka has contested this event in the Group 3 and even Group 2, but for that challenge the best senior players must make themselves available.
Just the other day Singles champion Yasitha De Silva was quoted during an interview with a daily newspaper recently saying that he would face a tough challenge in the future when retaining his slot as current champion because he would be playing against young schoolboys who are full time players. Does this go on to state that the present national champion is a part-time tennis player?
Niranjan is of the opinion that Sri Lanka’s players must consider playing abroad in events organised by their academies because this arrangement guarantees players would remain active during the tour period and get to play sufficient tennis whereas in a tournament one runs the risk of getting knocked out and being a spectator thereon-wards. But this he said was only till the country is able to once again retain the senior players in the game. And if this is done, it would guarantee Sri Lanka’s chances in overseas competitions. He said players from Sri Lanka have the habit of playing in academy events in countries like India and Spain.
He hailed the efforts of the tennis authorities to have tournaments and conduct tennis events in the outstations. But he added that the tennis hub is in Colombo and the tennis fraternity was a small community. “I think I stuck on with the sport because I started young and there was a culture supporting the players in the game from my time. I can remember my parents listening to commentaries through the radio when Wimbledon matches were on and that kind of culture generates a lot interest for tennis,” recalled Niranjan.
Coaches like Niranjan have a lot to offer to the sport and it will augur for tennis’ future if they are offered a platform to speak from and positively influence the sport.
Dialog National Netball Championship 2021
Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata PLC, continuing its promise of uplifting Sri Lanka sports has come forth once again for the third consecutive year to power the Dialog National Netball Championship 2021, which will be played from 22nd to 23rd January at the Digana Ground, Kandy.
The Dialog National Netball Championship 2021 will see 34 teams island-wide battle it out for top honours. The preliminary round of the tourney will be played in a league structure and from there onwards will be played on a knockout basis.
The National Netball Championship is the premier tournament conducted by the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka (NFSL) annually to identify and select talented players, coaches and umpires to train them to be champions of tomorrow in the international arena.
“The National Netball Championship is the most important tourney in the annual domestic calendar and I’m indeed thankful for Dialog Axiata for extending their support for the sport especially at a time the country and the economy is impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ranjani Jayakody, President, Netball Federation of Sri Lanka said. “The National Team has performed well in the past few years, hence tourneys such as the Dialog National Netball Championship is critical to maintain the form of national players and discover new talent.”
As the principal sponsor, Dialog Axiata has made arrangements to LIVE stream the match via thepapare.com, Dialog ViU mobile app and will also be shown LIVE on Dialog TV Channel 140.
Dialog Axiata is the proud sponsor of the Sri Lanka National Cricket, Volleyball and Netball teams. The Company also has a close association with the President’s Gold Cup Volleyball, Junior Volleyball, National Junior Netball tourneys, Schools Rugby League, Knockout and Sevens tourneys, Premier Football, Schools Cricket, and Paralympic sports – by powering the Army Para Games, National Para Games and the Sri Lankan contingent to the World Paralympic Games.
Sithum shines as De Mazenod beat Ananda
Under 17 Division I Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
Notable all-round performances by Sithum Fernando for De Mazenod, an underdog’s triumph by Sri Sumangala, Kandy over Dharmaraja and Mahinda rattling Devapathiraja for 45 runs were among the highlights of the Inter School Under 17 Division I Cricket tournament matches played on Wednesday.
Sithum Fernando’s heroics helped de Mazenod beat Ananda by 54 runs at Ananda Mawatha. An unbeaten 60 by Maleesha Perera was the only bright spot in the home team’s run chase.
At Galle, Mahinda wrecked havoc on Devapathiraja as their pacemen Dinura Kalupahana and Shehan Hasaranga took five wickets each to skittle out the visitors for 45 runs. Pacemen have not accounted for all ten wickets in school matches often.
Thenuka Ekanayake scored a half century and took two wickets as a good team effort powered Sri Sumangala College to a remarkable 102 runs victory over Dharmaraja at Lake View.
Richmond, Galle, Bandaranaike, Gampaha and St. Benedict’s also registered victories in the matches played on Wednesday.
De Mazenod beat Ananda at Ananda Mawatha
243 for 9 in 50 overs (Nehan Dias 36, Sithum Fernando 53, Hasith Sandeepa 46, Thareen Sanketh 28, Vihas Perera 20; Ayesh Sashimal 3/48, Isuru Ayesh 2/32, Maleesha Perera 2/49)
189 all out in 38 overs (Viduna Wijebandara 30, Maleesha Perera 60n.o., Isuru Ayesh 20; Sithum Fernando 4/40, Thareen Sanketh 3/49)
Mahinda rattle Devapathiraja for 45 runs at Galle
45 all out in 17.4 overs (Pathum shaminda 10; Dinura Kalupahana 5/12, Shehan Hasaranga 5/16)
46 for 2 in 12.1 overs (Dhanuja Induwara 23)
Bandaranaike MV, Gampaha beat Sri Dharmaloka, Kelaniya by four wickets at Godigamuwa
266 for 9 in 50 overs (Sanura Ruwantha 46, Nadiv Manchanayaka 25, Helanka Viduranga 40, Sanira Nimnal 41, Uditha Shehan 57, Themira Mukashana 19n.o.; Yasiru Wijesinghe 2/49, Runada Rajapaksha 2/50, Ashen Wickramasinghe 3/56)
268 for 6 in 49.3 overs (DInujaya Hettiarachchi 42, Runada Rajapaksha 78, Kusal Karunarathne 35, Ashen Wickramasinghe 43, Vihanga Wijerathne 22n.o.; Nadiv Manchanayaka 2/57, Helanka Viduranga 2/34)
St. Benedict’s register eight wickets win at Panadura
125 all out in 37.4 overs (Geethama Fernando 26, Chamod Sanchethana 37n.o.; Hasanga Nanayakkara 2/31, Supun Senanayake 2/17, Kojitha Nimsara 2/20, Chamath Chathuraya 3/24)
127 for 2 in 22.1 overs (Viduneth Wilson 64n.o., Nethan Fernando 22, Shenel Samarathunga 22n.o.)
Sri Sumangala beat Dharmaraja by 102 runs at Lake View
203 all out in 48.2 overs (Madawa Rathnayake 48, Thenuka Ekanayake 67, Tharindu Lakshan 40; Saranga Uduwella 2/47, Arosha Mahagedara 3/43, Dulara Bandulasena 3/21)
101 all out in 24.2 overs (Hesara Rajapaksa 21; Thenuka Ekanayake 2/21, Buddi Sanchitha 4/12)
Richmond pull off 25 runs win over Vidyaloka at Galle
148 all out in 49 overs (Imesh Sasindu 27, Tharinda Nirmal 28, Sanahas Ramindu 26; Hansaka Randipa 4/14)
123 all out in 47 overs (Prageeth Bimsara 20, Thinuka Kalhara 37; Sharon Abhishek 3/31, Manuja Dulneth 3/31)
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