Former Sri Lanka under 18 seven’s captain, Gemunu Chethiya scored a superlative hat-trick propelling the Josephians to a 33-10 win against a sloppy Thomian outfit, kicking off the Singer Schools’ Rugby League 2018 in splendid fashion as they retained the Lady Jayathilake shield.
St. Joseph’s and S. Thomas’ both kicked off their 2018 season amidst a steady drizzle at Havelock Park as the Josephians sought to defend the Lady Jayathilake Shield they won in 2017, while the Thomians aimed to dismantle the Maradana outfit with ambitions of regaining the coveted shield.
As forecast, the Josephians started off with a strong back line with captain Sameesha Virangana sitting pretty in the center calling the shots alongside Gemunu Chethiya while Santhush Algama marshaled the troops at first five.
Bulky prop Adeesha Handunpathirana slotted into the tight-head position while Harith Senanayake and Christian De Lile packed down beside the scrum in the flank position, rounding off a vigorous forward pack for the lads from Mount Lavinia.
Statistic brief of the S. Thomas’ v St. Joseph’s College match in the Singer Schools Rugby..
Things did not begin according to plan for the Thomians as they lost Jaan De Zoysa prior to kickoff to a hamstring niggle and minutes following kick off winger Lochana Vishral was stretched off after a head knock.
The game was put to bed by the running Josephian three-quarters in the first half as tries from Keshan Kavinda and a double from Gemunu Chethiya lit up Havelock Park even though rain tried to dampen the spirits of the Blue and White supporters.
The lack of a quality kicker for the lads from Mount Lavinia was clearly displayed and it was an error off a clearance which led to the first Joes try.
Kavinda received the ball following a scintillating break from Dulanjana Piyathissa as he returned the clearance with vigor, calving open the Thomian defence. The winger stepped his way through the S. Thomas’ defence, beating three would-be tacklers and dotted down.
Santhush Algama made no mistake slotting over from under the post taking the Josephians into an early 7 point lead leaving the visitors chasing the game from the onset. (SJC 07-00 STC)
The damp weather did not do any favours to either side, as the Thomians saw an opportunity off the restart, go a-begging as they tried to get back into things.
The missed chance spurred on the lads from Mount Lavinia as they managed a score minutes later to cut the deficit to just two.
Lashan De Silva, was the man at the end of a rolling maul which rumbled forward for 15 meters from near the Joes 22-meter line. De Silva, broke off the tail, bouncing off the final defender to score on the 5-meter line. Kicking woes continued as centre Aaron Ferdinando missed the conversion as the blue-blacks continued to trail by two points. (SJC 07-05 STC)
Gemunu Chethiya put on a show, displaying speed, strength and lightning feet as he scored two converted tries prior to the break, taking the holders into half-time in a commanding position.
His first was set up by Shan Akila, playing on the right wing. Akila bounced off one tackler and chipped ahead as Chethiya got the bounce of the ball, beating the final defender to the white-wash.
The second was all thanks to his sheer brilliance. The center made something out of nothing, beating winger Sheshan Rajapakshe with a goose-step, bringing on the razzle-dazzle which he is known for, dotting under the post.
Half Time: St. Joseph’s College 21 (3T 3C) lead S. Thomas’ College 05 (1T)
With the rain increasing at the Park club, the spirits of the Thomian supporters continued to be dampened as the game headed into a certain defeat for the Mount Lavinia outfit.
Chethiya continued from where he left off in the first half as he made break after break, leaving the fragile back line defence of the Thomians sweating, not knowing how to contain the youngster.
Replacement winger Imesh Dissanayake and captain Sameesha Virangana both coughed-up try scoring opportunities as the light at the Park continued to fade.
After two missed chances, and being parked in the opposition half, the Josephians finally got the much deserved bonus point try through John Ganegoda. He found his way to the try line and even though Algama failed with the extras, the game was put beyond the reach of the Thomians. (SJC 26-05 STC)
Adeesha Handunpathirana scored the second of the game for the Thomians, however, the damage had already been done by the lads from Maradana.
Chethiya rounded off a superlative hat-trick as the centre scored on the stroke of full time, adding the cherry on top of the cake for the Josephians as they retained the Lady Jayathilake Shield.
Full Time: St. Joseph’s College 33 (5T 4C) beat S. Thomas’ College 10 (2T)
ThePapare.com Player of the Match: Gemunu Chethiya
St. Joseph’s College – Gemunu Chethiya 3T, Keshan Kavind 1T, John Ganegod 1T, Santhush Algama 4C
Booking – John Ganegoda
S. Thomas’ College – Lashan De Silva 1T, Adeesha Handunpathirana 1T