Many expected a grudge battle between the marauding Royal eight and the nimble- footed Isipathana backs. The opening few minutes seemed like the predictions were right. Isipthana’s game plan was quite clear from the start as they opted to swing the ball to both corners of the pitch rather than clear their lines. But Royal was ready and initially their drift defense proved effective as they turned over possession inside the Isipathana 22 and lunched their trademark ‘pick and goes’ from close quarters while always on the prowl to win that crucial penalty advantage which would help them set the platform for their deadly rolling maul.
Royal won two penalties inside the opening five minutes and opted for the rolling maul. However, they came up empty handed on both occasions as Isipathana countered it well and drove them back. Just as in the league game Isipathana scored the first points for the day when Sumudu Rankothge sliced through the Royal defense and scored mid left which was almost a carbon copy of the opening try he scored in the league fixture between the two teams. Full back Gayan Wickramarathne slotted in the extras to put the Greens in to the early lead (IC 07-00 RC).
Unlike their previous games the Royal forwards were seen struggling to gain those valuable yards as they usually do and they were pinned down in their own half which left them no option but to kick which gave Isipathana the possession and opportunities to counter attack. A dazzling break through the center field by full back Wickramarathne saw him bring play into the opposition 22 before being tackled. Then came one of the most amazing tries of the season, yet again by the Isipathana backs. The ball was sent out wide to Rankothge who drew in the Royal defense, he then passed on to his winger Ranidu Pramodh who in return drew the Royal cover defense before flinging the ball out wide, which was followed by an inside pass to captain Kushan Indunil who collected the ball with one hand before giving an audacious no look over head pass to his fly half Randy Silva who touched down near the corner flag. Wickramrathne could not add the difficult extras but ‘Pathana’ led 12nil.
Despite their initial foray into the Isipathana red zone Royal seemed to be succumbing into pressure. They managed to enter the Isipathana ’22 after a considerable period of time and came away with points through their talisman scrum half Ashok Wijekumar. Isipathana were penalized during a five-meter scrum and Wijekumar opted for the quick tap and barged his way through mid-left. Ovin Askey added the extra 2 points to cut down the lead to just a try.
The try which Royal scored 5 minutes from the break could have given them confidence to launch a comeback but the green machine had other ideas. After a few phases by their ever present forwards the ball was sent out wide to their dangerous backs. Chamodh Fernando joined the line from the blind side and cut through the Royal defense and released his skipper Kushan Indunil who sprinted to the try line. Wickramarathne was on target with the conversion to give Royal a physiological blow just before the break. (IC 19 – 07 RC)
Half Time: Isipathana 19 – Royal 07
The resumption of the 2nd half saw Royal receiving another blow when Isipathana scored just a few minutes into the half. Scrum half Harith Bandara cut through the Royal defense and the ball changed hands beautifully with Randy Silva ending up scoring another try. Wickramarathne added the extras with ease and Isipathana were now leading by 19 points. (IC 26 – 07 RC).
Referee Rohan Fernando was always in control of the game and stamped his authority sending Isipathana second rower Sudeera Gayanath to the sin bin for repeated infringements. A few minutes later Isipathana were reduced to 13 men when their other lock Adeesha Weerathunga was shown yellow for indiscipline at the breakdown. Royal understanding the advantage they had quickly opted for the rolling maul and scored through hooker Azmir Fajudeen. Askey however could not add the extras. (IC 26 – 12 RC).
Royal would have hoped to close the gap while they had the two-man advantage but the game was evened out when Fajudeen was sent to the sin bin for an infringement during the breakdown. Isipathana not to be capitulated by the opposition pressure decided to play their trademark fast open rugby and reaped rich rewards as they started to cut through the Royal defense many a time. The pressure started to pay off as Sumudu Rankothge crashed in for try under the posts after some hard work by his fellow backs.
A few minutes later Isipathana sealed the game with another try through Randy Silva who had the game of his life. Wickramarathne added the extras on both occasions and ‘pathana’ were running away with it. (IC 40 – 12 RC).
Royal’s final nail in the coffin was hammered down in the final minutes and in fine style. The Isipathana backs broke off a five-meter scrum from deep in their half and sent Ranidu Pramodh sprinting 60 meters to score under the posts for a converted try.
The venue factor seemed to have taken its toll on Royal College and they looked highly disorganized in defense, especially during one on one situations. Their usually brilliant forwards were out played by an aggressive Isipathana forward pack who defended well and were well disciplined in dangerous positions. The margin of the victory is a new record while it caps off another fine season for the Havelock town school who maintained their status as the Kings of schools Rugby clinching a grand double. This was the 10th occasion the Isipathanians clinched the knockout title and amazingly their 64th overall under 20 title.
Full time : (Isipathana College 47 – Royal College 12)
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Randy Silva (Isipathana)
Referee – Rohan Fernando
Isipathana: (19) 47
Tries: Randy Silva (3), Sumudu Rankothge (2), Kushan Indunil, Ranidu Pramodh
Conversions: Gayan Wickramarathne (6)
Royal (07) 12
Tries: Ashok Wijekumar, Azmir Fajudeen
Conversions: Ovin Askey (1)