St. Joseph’s College continued their unbeaten streak in the Singer Schools’ Rugby League by beating S. Thomas’ College in what was a rather scrappy game, where they were reduced to 12 men in the dying stages. However, with a bonus point for scoring 4 tries and securing the Lady Jayathilake Shield, the Josephians are inching closer towards clinching the league title.
S Thomas’ kicked off proceedings at 4.10 after the presentation ceremony of the Lady Jayathilake Shield encounter. The Josephians didn’t exactly find their momentum after the extended break and 10 minutes into the game, the Thomians scored in the right corner via Sheshan Rajapaksa. Bhasula Weerasinghe missed the conversion from a difficult angle. (STC 05 – SJC 00)
The slight drizzle at the Big Club Grounds seemed be getting the better of both teams as handling errors were displayed from there onwards, which made it a scrappy encounter. At one point the Josephian star player Tharindu Maduranga made two successive handling errors which gave the Thomians the advantage. However, in the 23rd minute, the marauding Josephian forwards opted to pick and go and were inches short of the try line until the big prop forward Shevon Gregory barged over. Santhush Algama bisected the uprights with ease as the Joes took the lead. (STC 05 – SJC 07)
Moments after the restart, it was almost like a football game, with the ball flying back and forth before Sheshan Rajapaksa managed to kick it out to save a possible try. However, the Josephians attacked during a brilliant passage of play thanks to the Josephian captain and vice captain duo, where the latter looped around the scrum and offloaded to centre Imesh Dissanayake who did the finishing touches in the left corner. Santhush missed the conversion but the Joes took a decent lead into halftime. (STC 05 – SJC 12)
Half Time – STC 05 (1T) : SJC 12 (1T 1C)
Soon after the restart, it was a recap of the try scored just before half time and this time it was Rashen Gunawardena who sniped passed the oncoming Thomian defenders in the opposite 22 after a brilliant 8-9 move. The wind wasn’t in favour of Santhush as he missed the conversion from a difficult angle. (STC 05 – SJC 17)
Rashen Gunawardena completed his double in the 41st minute as he dashed his way all the way to the try line from the halfway line. Rashen sped past all the would-be defenders to score the bonus point try in the left corner and his opposite number Sakith Perera’s effort in the cover tackle was in vain. Despite Santhush missing the kick from a difficult angle, the Hornets were running away with the game quite handsomely. (STC 05 – SJC 22)
“When the Saints go marching in” was played throughout the game by the Josephian papare bands but neither team was making the best out of the opportunities given, thanks to handling errors. Maduranga made a break though at one point but was brilliantly taken down by Olugala.
After being awarded 4 penalties consecutively due to indiscipline in the ruck, the Thomians were trying very hard to score a try rather than going for the three points and finally referee Jamaldeen showed the yellow card to Cheka Jayawardana for continuous infringements. Horrendously, two more yellow cards followed up in the 64th minute with Aaron Perera and Gershom Thangiah sin binned for unnecessary altercations. Finally, the Thomian prop forward Shenuk Perera powered his way over, with the clock ticking. (STC 10 -SJC 22)
The Josephians were defending with only 12 players but the Thomians only had themselves to blame for coughing up every penalty advantage and scrum in the dying stages of the game. A comedy of errors followed up in the Thomian backline and after the ball carrier being bundled out, referee Jamaldeen decided it was full time.
The Josephians retained the Lady Jayathilake Shield for a third year running and Rashen Gunawardena’s performance made it easy to name him Player of the Match.
Josephian coach Nilufer Ibrahim had this to say- “It was not a good performance after the long break, but we are happy to win with a bonus point.”
Full Time – STC 10 (2T) : SJC 22 (4T 1C)
ThePapare.com‘s Player of the Match – Rashen Gunawardena
Match Referee – Aqeel Jamaldeen
S. Thomas’ College –Tries by Sheshan Rajapaksa and Shenuk Perera
St. Joseph’s College – Tries by Rashen Gunawardena (2), Imesh Dissanayake and Shevon Gregory
Conversion by – Santhush Algama
Cheka Jayawardana, Aaron Perera and Gershom Thangiah