After trailing 00-08 at half time, St. Peter’s College orchestrated a stunning comeback to secure a place in the Dialog Schools’ Rugby Knockouts 2023 final, and the Rev. Fr. Basil Weeratunga Shield defeating arch Rivals St. Joseph’s College 11-16 on a soggy evening at Havelock Park.
In the first half, it was all St. Joseph’s as the underdogs faced off against the League champions in a high-stakes encounter at Havelock Park.
The champions’ plans were derailed early on by the formidable Naveen Marasinghe of St. Joseph’s, who scored a try that went unconverted, leaving St. Peter’s in a tough spot. (SPC 00-05 SJC)
The Josephians repeatedly failed to capitalize on their opponent’s errors, squandering valuable opportunities like gold dust slipping through their fingers.
Iwano White extended the Blue and White’s lead by adding his second penalty kick, leaving the fans from Bambalapitiya feeling concerned as they reached halftime.
Halftime score: St. Peter’s College 00 trails St. Joseph’s College 08 (1 Try, 1 Penalty)
Veteran Sanath Martis, in a frustrated state, addressed the team before heading to the locker room, aiming to motivate the champions.
The holders responded in champion fashion, deflecting the Josephians and scoring through Yumeth Shihara’s precise boot to get on the scoreboard.
A second penalty from a similar position was successfully kicked, doubling Pete’s lead, making it a one-score game. (SPC 06-08 SJC)
Flanker Ashaine Madugaspe scored a crucial try on the hour mark when points were scarce. Captain Naveen Marasinghe was sent to the sin bin for a cheap shot, reducing the Josephians’ chances.
The openside flanker sealed the deal with the first try for St. Peter’s as Yumeth Shihara’s conversion attempt missed, leaving them with a slender 3-point lead. (SPC 11-08 SJC)
The underdogs drew level thanks to Iwano White’s kicking prowess as the game hung in the balance with only three minutes remaining, and both teams were back at full strength. (SPC 11-11 SJC)
The Josephian discipline crumbled, allowing replacement halfback Praneeth to dive over in a graceful manner, securing both a place in the final and the Rev. Fr. Basil Weeratunga shield in one impressive victory.
Full time: St. Peter’s College 16 (2T 2P) beat St. Joseph’s College 11 (1T 2P)
ThePapare.com Player of the Match: Ranithu Ridmal (SPC no. 1)
SPC: Ashaine Madugaspe 1T, Yumeth Shihara 2P, Praneeth 1T
SJC: Naveen Marasinghe 1T, Iwano White 2P