In the 3rd quarter-final of the Dialog Schools Rugby Knockouts Championship 2023, we had a rematch of the season opener between St. Joseph’s College and St. Anthony’s College at Havelock Park. In a one-sided affair, Joes struck a lethal revenge blow on the Antonians, registering a thumping 57-00 victory to book their spot in the semi-finals.
St. Joseph’s College attacked from the word go in this encounter as St. Anthony’s College conceded a penalty in the 3rd minute of the game. Bheeshma Jayasekara’s kick took them to the 22m territory of the opposition, and after an excellent line out, Ayeshan Lanka took them close to the whitewash. Jayasekara, who took them close with the kick, did the rest as he just needed a little show and go to outsmart the last line of defence and register the game’s first try. Ivano White converted the try to add the two extra points (SJC 07 – 00 SACK)
Just a few minutes later, Joes entered the Antonian half once again. They conceded a hands on the ruck penalty, which paved the way for Jayasekara to give his team a passage into the 22m territory. The line out was once again good for the Josephians and their hooker Chamod Kavindya, after a good throw-in, received a pass from Lanka and powered his way over the try line to score a second five-pointer inside the first eight minutes. The conversion unfortunately didn’t go through this time from White (SJC 12 – 00 SACK)
The 3rd try came for the Joes when the Eagles conceded a penalty close to their try line after a deliberate block, and the big Joes forwards did the rest, with Jehan Athukorala scoring the try. White converted this time to add the two extra points (SJC 19 – 00 SACK)
A few moments later, Joes managed to turnover a line out of St. Anthony’s on their 22m line, and Ivano White cruised through to find the fourth try for his side. He converted the try to add two more points (SJC 26 – 00 SACK)
The fifth try of the Joes was probably their best and one of the best of the season. The Eagles, after entering the Joe’s half after some time, knocked the ball forward, and Senuja Geeran, who collected the loose ball, made a solid run to enter the Antonian territory but ran out of gas. Vihanga Randeep, the scrum-half, then gave the ball out to his skipper Naveen Marasinghe, who just powered through the first defender, foxed the next one with a dummy, fended off another, circled the Eagles skipper before giving a handoff to the last remaining defender. White converted the try by his skipper to increase their tally to 33, and the halftime whistle also blew a few minutes after (SJC 33 – 00 SACK)
St. Anthony’s, after an abysmal first half, would have wanted to turn things around in the next 35 minutes, but the knock forward from the very first kick of the second half foreshadowed what was coming their way. Joes, who made the most out of the scrum they received deep in the opposition territory, scored a sixth try as this time Randeepa joined the list of try scorers. White missed the conversion this time to dent his success rate (SJC 38 – 00 SACK)
After the early second-half try, three or four minutes later, the Eagles conceded a penalty in their half again for having hands in the ruck. And just like in the first half, Joes kicked the ball into touch, and their line out worked fine again as another new name, Ashen Kumara, entered the try scorers’ list for the day. White converted the try this time taking the Joes just 5 points away from a half-century (SJC 45 – 00 SACK)
St. Joseph’s reached the monumental 50-point mark with an eighth try, the third inside the first ten minutes of the second half. Kumara, who scored the previous try, was the one to find the whitewash again. White got the conversion right again (SJC 52 – 00 SACK)
The game’s final try came when Antonians conceded a penalty just 5 metres away from their try line, and the Joes took it quickly for their skipper Marasinghe to score a second try in the game. White missed his final conversion of the match (SJC 57 – 00 SACK)
With St. Joseph’s having the clear upper hand, the game unfortunately met a premature end with a couple of minutes to go when Shenal Malinda of St. Joseph’s College suffered a thumping blow to his head while carrying the ball as his head hit the ground after getting tackled and then hit the knee of the Eagles skipper Sahan Keerthisiri. It looked like Malinda was out cold at first, but fortunately, he did respond to the medical officials before being taken off the field by an ambulance. With just 1 ambulance available on site, the referee chatted with the two captains, as an ambulance must be present at the venue for the game to resume. But with the result as clear as daylight, Keerthisiri and Marasinghe shook hands to signal the end of the game.
With this loss, the 2023 Schools rugby season comes to an end for the Eagles from St. Anthony’s College. They had a memorable league season by qualifying for the Super Round, and their skipper Keerthisiri, Roshen Kumara, Tyronne Mariyadas and Rakesh Pillai performed exceptionally for them this season.
St. Joseph’s are one step away from qualifying for the Knockouts trophy final once again as they will face the winner from the fourth quarter-final between the unbeaten league winners St. Peter’s College and Trinity College in the semi-final.
St. Joseph’s College 57 (9T 6C) beat St. Anthony’s College 00
- NDB Bank Player of the Match :- Bheeshma Jayasekara (SJC)
Points Breakdown :-
St. Joseph’s College – Ivano White (1T, 6C) Naveen Marasinghe (2T) Ashen Kumara (2T) Jehan Athukorala (1T) Chamod Malinda (1T) Vihanga Randeepa (1T) Chamod Kavindya (1T)