The Peterites steamrolled Kingswood out of the Royal Complex last weekend scoring a mammoth 50+ in the quarterfinals of the Milo President’s Trophy Knockouts. They are also the defending champions, after defeating St. Joseph’s last year in the finals.
This time, Isipathana did the Peterites a favour by taking out the Josephians in the quarterfinals. But, can the Peterites be second time lucky with Isipathana?
Semifinal 2: St. Peter’s College v Isipathana
St. Peter’s have been one of the best teams this season. They lost out on the league title by a slender margin but now they are two games away from retaining the Milo President’s crown.
The quarterfinal brought out the best of the Peterites. They were ruthless and their divisions worked well.
Memories from the League game at Bambalapitiya that Isipathana lost after winning the 1st half remain fresh in everyone’s mind. In the aftermath of that game, Isipathana later completed their season with another loss to Royal, finishing 6th overall.
But from that dark spot, the Green Machine bounced back last weekend, taking the entire Josephian team by surprise to claim their quarterfinal ticket by winning the game 19-17.
Maybe this is the old Isipathana we know. Reckless, dangerous and disruptive.
It was just the two points in the game against S. Thomas’ in the opening week of the league which separated them and the league title and in that spirit, the school from Bambalapitiya won’t be stopping at anything other than the knockout title.
The Peterite forwards have brought in the flair to this team with the likes of Javindu Fernando and Yohan Fernando doing a lot of ball carrying. The third-row led by captain Bilal Hilmy has been one of the best units in the schools’ rugby league.
Almost a mirror-image of former national player and Peterite alumni Ishan Noor, is the six foot tall Nizraan Nilar. His hat-trick of tries last weekend was a deserved reward for his efforts but he knows that his job is not done yet.
“It was a good game but we know we have two matches to go. Our team is certain that we will be prepared to face Isipathana in the semifinal” echoed Nizran, which were more or less the sentiments of the whole team.
From the time where Thenuka Nanayakkara missed that all important conversion at Mount Lavinina, there has been no stopping this young lad. If the Peterites are to win this, they need Nanayakkara to play a key role.
Shenol Silva has been the new-found hero for St. Peter’s in the knockouts. Making 4 breaks during play, he has come in handy for the Peterite back-line. With Raveen Fernando expected to come all guns blazing, St. Peter’s are favorites going into this game.
Isipathana’s campaign this year has been just like a rollercoaster ride. A swift advent to the peak and a faster descend down. After winning all 4 of their opening games, Isipathana failed to win the next five.
A hopeful 2019 turned out a miserable one but with that win against St. Joseph’s Janith Serasinghe’s Isipathana side has one final chance to finish off the season on a successful note.
The turning point for the Greens was that game against Isipathana on 31st of March; the final game of the first round. Since then, the team has only moved backward.
A few months later, the quarterfinal win against St. Joseph provides them the redemption card for this season.
Serasinghe’s heroics were key to their win against St. Joseph’s but he understands that he has his work cut out against the faster and stronger pack of St. Peter’s.
“It was a team effort that won us the Joes game. Myself, Manilka (Rubeyru) & Chamath (Kalhara) planned this and won.”
“We hope to do the same in the next game”
Manilka Rubeyru has undoubtedly been the best player in this year’s Singer Schools Rugby League but the challenge for Isipathana will be to use his strengths at the right time.
Rubeyru, in his 4th season, has been a part of three Milo President’s Trophy finals and knows exactly what it takes to win one. With all of Isipathana rotating around him, the seniors Manual Rathanyaka and Chamath Kalhara will need to step up on the big stage.
Find out if the Peterites get to their dream or Isipathana vanquish them too, on the 13th of July 2019 on ThePapare.com