St. Joseph’s College hosted Isipathan College on a sunny evening at Havelock Park today. Coming into the season as title favourites, both teams were determined to go into the second round unbeaten which would give them a favourable table position and bragging rights in what is sure to be an exhilarating round two in the A-division Singer Schools Rugby League.
St. Joseph’s practically gifted the first try of the match to Isipathana with some average passing from the scrum. Pathana scrum half Chamath Kalhara pounced on an ill-judged pass by the Josephian Tharindu de Alwis and sprinted over almost 80 meters to score the first try of the match. Manilka Ruberu made no mistake in converting the try. (Isipathana 07 – St. Joseph’s 00)
Isipathan made sure they took away points once they breached the Joe’s half again, this time when Tharindu de Alwis was caught offside. It was that man once again, Manilka Ruberu who made light work of the penalty, bisecting the posts from a comfortable angle to extend the visitors’ lead. (Isipathana 10 – St. Joseph’s 00)
After the restart, however, it was the boys from Maradana who got into the driving seat as the Josephian forwards were in for a grueling day of carries and pick and go’s. As they made inroads into the Pathana defence they continued for 20 odd phases and finally got a penalty. Santhush Algama stepped up and bisected the posts to pull the hosts back by 3 points. (Isipathana 10 – St. Joseph’s 03)
The relentless pick-and-go’s from the Josephian forwards continued and it took its toll on the Pathana defense as they gave up a penalty yet again within kicking range for Santhush Algama who accepted the invitation with glee and slotted in the 3 points. (Isipathana 10 – St. Joseph’s 06)
The Green Machine revved its engine once again as flanker Janith Serasinghe caught the overthrow and almost went all the way by himself. But it was only a matter of time however where a scrambling Joes defense was no match for the brilliant Pathana line. Manula Rathnayaka went over for Isipathana and the ever dependable Manilka Ruberu added the two points. (Isipathana 17 – St. Joseph’s 06)
Half time: Isipathana 17 (2T, 2C, 1P) – St. Joseph’s 06(2P)
St. Joseph’s College dominated the second half, doing all the scoring and keeping possession of the ball for the most part.
A good kick and chase by Tharindu Maduranga forced a knock-on at the Pathana red-zone and a few phases after the ensuing scrum, front rower Pavindu Dilshan went over for the Joes, to kick off the scoring in the 2nd half, signaling their comeback. (Isipathana 17 – St. Joseph’s 11)
Manilka Ruberu had a golden opportunity to put the Green Machine back in the lead. Although it was a penalty from roughly 45 meters, he would have backed himself to make it but as luck would have it, the ball bounced off the crossbar of all things and fell safely into the hands of a Josephian player.
A few phases later the Joes came knocking and once again their forwards did the bulk of the work performing carry after carry, putting dents into the Pathana defense and eventually replacement Hasitha Wijesekara went in right under the post. Santhush Algama made no mistake converting the try and gave the Joes the lead for the first time in the match. (Isipathana 17 – St. Joseph’s 18)
Manilka Ruberu had yet another chance to put Isipathana on top during the dying stages of the game, this time with a chance well within his kicking range but failed yet again. The Joes played it smart, held on to the ball and punted it out once time ran out to secure a thrilling 1-point win and remain unbeaten.
Full Time: Isipathana 17(2T, 2C, 1P) – St. Joseph’s 18 (2T, 1C, 2P)
ThePapare Player of the Match: Tharindu Madunranga (St. Joseph’s)
Point scorers for Isipathana: Chamath Kalhara 1T, Manula Rathnayaka 1T, Manilka Ruberu 2C 1P
Point scorers for St. Joseph’s: Pavindu Dilshan 1T, Hasitha Wijesekara 1T, Santhush Algama 1C 2P