St. Joseph’s College, Colombo 10 rewrote history when they clinched their maiden Milo President’s Trophy championship beating Isipathana College by 19-13 in the final played under lights at Race Course International Stadium on Saturday.
Playing their first-ever major rugby final, Joes collected points through 2 tries and 3 penalties while the last year’s winners and league runners-up, Isipathana touched down twice and booted one penalty kick.
Earlier, amidst a packed crowd, Isipathana inside center, Randy Silva kicked off proceedings in this all important final against the wind. The Josephians showed intent and composure from the word go and scored in the first instance of entering the opponent’s 22’ when fly-half Chathura Senevirathne touched down in the fourth minute after taking a quick-tap from the five meter line. Sachith Silva failed to convert. (SJC 05 – IC 00)
The Isipathanians used the width perfectly and settled down early which helped them hit back strongly. In the 17th minute, number 8 Devin Gunarathne broke off a rolling maul deep inside Josephian territory, shrugged off two defenders and equaled the scores. Chamod Fernando could not add the extra points. (SJC 05 – IC 05)
As the game was played in stunning speed and intensity, full-back Chamod Fernando was yellow-carded in the 30th minute when he made a high tackle on Josephian winger Dilan Kavinda and both teams were down to 14 players in a few minutes when St. Joseph’s number 8 Gihan Perera was sent to the naughty chair in the for not rolling away in a ruck.
At the stroke of the half-time, St. Joseph’s received a 53-meter penalty when an Isipathanian player entered a ruck from the side. The Josephian first five-eighth, Chathura Senevirathne convincingly slotted over the penalty to help the boys in blue and white take a slender lead at the breather.
Half-time: Isipathana College 05 – St. Joseph’s College 08
After the lemons, Senevirathne restarted the game. Josephians still with 14 players had a golden opportunity when they entered the Isipathana ‘Red’ zone but Shan Akila knocked the ball forward, yards away from the whitewash.
As the game progressed to the 48th minute, the Josephian back line was caught off-side and Isipathana full-back Chamod Fernando leveled the scores by booting the 22-meter penalty kick. (SJC 08 – IC 08)
With both the teams committing several mistakes and conceding penalties, St. Joseph’s College stuck to their game plan by hitting the Pathana defense with their bulky forwards which enabled them to go ahead in the scoreboard in the 63rd minute when flanker Tharindu De Alwis barged over the try-line. Sachith Silva failed to add the extra points. (SJC 13 – IC 08)
Isipathana College missed out on leveling the scores in the 66th minute when Chamod Fernando’s try was disallowed by referee for a forward pass in the same phase as Isipathana failed to penetrate the strong Josephian defense.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes, St. Joseph’s received a penalty, 15-meters out after the boys from Havelock Town was penalized for hands in the ruck. Chathura Senevirathne bisected the posts easily to extend the lead. (SJC 16 – IC 08)
With the victory in sight for the Josephians, the blue & white brigade put the game to rest in the 77th minute when Senevirathne slotted over his 3rd penalty after an Isipathana player was penalized for a ‘neckroll’. (SJC 19 – IC 08)
In the last move of the game, Isipathana College replacement winger V.K Sabanayake planted an unconverted try near the far corner flag but it was too late for the Green Machine.
Full Time: Isipathana College 13 – St. Joseph’s College 19