The revamped St. Joseph’s side after a rather average performance in the league, seemed to have got into the right groove at the right time, as they outclassed Dharmaraja College, Kandy by 34 points to 12 in the 1st semi final of the MILO Presidents Trophy Knock out tournament worked off at the Sugathadasa Stadium.
The winners who led 16 – 05 at the breather accumulated their points from 2 goals, a try and 5 penalties while Dharamaja responded with a try in either half, one of which was converted.
The Joes who were the favourites coming into this game did face pockets of resistance from the visitors but accurate goal kicking by their reliable place kicker Sachith Silva saw them keep a safe distance from danger almost throughout the game which also gave them a finals berth for the first time in their rugby history. The boys from Darley Road always looked a threat whenever they entered the opposition half and it took them only four minutes in the game to get things underway. Intervention by the touch judge saw referee Rohan Fernando awarding a penalty for a high tackle and Sachith Silva fired across the 3 pointer from 30 yards out. Silva was called upon to take up the kicking duties yet again in the 10th and 19th minute as the Rajans were penalized for being offside. Silva was successful on both occasions to hand his team a nine point cushion. (SJC 09 – DRCK 00).
Five minutes later, it was Silva again registering himself on the score sheet cutting the Rajans defence with a lightning break off a set piece move to touch down under the posts. Silva added the extras himself to take his and his teams tally to 16 points. (SJC 16 – DRCK 00)
Dharmaraja who showed patches of promising play never got things going for themselves, unable to retain possession but somehow managed to score a fortunate try against the run of play just before the half hour mark. Having smothered an attempted Josephian box kick inside the Joes red zone the Rajans put enough pressure for the ball to squirt out from the side which second rower E.C Ekanayake took advantage of to score mid right. The conversion attempt by C.Deshapriya only managed to hit the woodwork as the Joes held on to a healthy lead going into the half time interval.
HALF TIME: ST.JOSEPH’S 16 – DHARMARAJA 05
The resumption saw the Rajanas playing with more confidence and vigour and they were rewarded with an early try in 44th minute of the second half. Center Bhawantha Udangamuwa managed to create space outside him with a storming run to score mid left. Deshapriya made a stunning conversion to bring the game back to life. (SJC 16 – DRCK 12)
Unfortunately for the visitors it was all the points they would score for the evening as the Josephians took control of the game by the scruff of its neck. Sachith Silva continued from where he left off in the 1st half slotting through and easy 10 meter penalty in the 46th minute. (SJC 19 – DRCK 12).
Both teams tried to get control of the game, but it was the Josephians who looked the more likely to score with the dangerous backs looking to pounce at any given opportunity. Dharmaraja conceded yet another penalty in 58th minute which Sachith Silva kicked through with ease. (SJC 22 – DRCK 12).
After all the limelight was stolen by Sachith Silva it was time for Chatura Senevirathne to get in on the act. After a few phases by his forwards the ball was sent out to Senevirathne who’s thundering run evading several Dharmaraja defenders to crash over for a brilliant solo effort. Silva complimented his team mate’s try with a stunning conversion. Not resting on their laurels, the Joes struck again almost immediately through skipper Vinul Fernando who added the finishing touches to a brilliant move executed by his backs. Silva’s kick only managed to rebound off the uprights but the game was virtually sealed with more than 12 minutes to go (SJC 34 – DRCK 12).
With the game wrapped up in the bag Coach Nilfer Ibrahim decided to flush his bench to give them much needed game time. Even though coming close to scoring a few occasions, the Joes just couldn’t add the finishing touches as the game reached its end.
FULL TIME: ST.JOSEPH’S 34 – DHARMARAJA 12
ThePapare.com player of the match – Sachith Silva (St Joseph’s)
Referee: Rohan Fernando
Score break down: St. Joseph’s 34 (16)
Tries: Sachith Silva, Chathura Senevirathne, Vinul Fernando
Conversions: Sachith Silva (2)
Penalties: Sachith Silva (5)
Score break down: Dharmaraja 12 (05)
Tries: E.C Ekanayake, Bhavantha Udangamuwa
Conversions: C Deshapriya (1)