Unbeaten St. Peter’s College clinched the Dialog Schools Rugby League 2023, after a lapse of 13 years, with a resounding victory over last year’s winners Isipathana College, 28 points to 17, in the decider worked off at Bambalapitiya on Saturday (19).
The match was billed as a showdown between the two best school sides in 2023, which was well proven as these two teams locked horns in the 7s Final a few months ago, when the Green Machines humbled the Bamba Brigade by winning the game 19 points to 10.
St. Peter’s came into this League Decider as the only unbeaten side, while Isipathana’s goal, on the other hand, was to defend their Dialog Schools Rugby title. Naveen Kanishka kicked off the proceedings at a fully packed St. Peter’s College Grounds.
The Peterites had the possession in the initial stages, during which Dineth Ranasinghe made inroads into the Isipathana defence and a laser-like pass to Yumeth Shihara allowed the outside centre to cross the whitewash to open the scoring. Try scorer Shihara slotted over the conversion as Isipathana were down a man when Chirath Botheju was yellow carded.
The Peterites were also down to fourteen when Wismika Methusara was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle as the Green Machine opened the scoring through the highest point-scorer of the league, Rinesh Silva, who bisected the uprights with his first penalty kick.
Sudesh Jayawickrama made a huge mark on this big game with a fabulous 50-22 kick, which gave the hosts an attacking lineout, and the Peterite front three caught the visitors by surprise with a smart line out move which managed to send hooker Dulaj Navodya through. (SPC 12 – 03 IC)
Pressure was piling on the visitors as they conceded an offside penalty, and the penalty kick from Shihara sent the Peterites 12 points clear. (SPC 15 – 03 IC)
Isipathana ended the first half on a high when the Playmaker Shahid Zumri made another back of the hand pass to Kalindu Shenal, who then put in a quick offload to the dangerous Rinesh Silva. Silva showcased some lovely stepping to go over to cut the deficit for the defending champs as he converted his own try with a lovely kick to go into the break.
Half Time: St. Peter’s College 15 (2T,1C,1P) – Isipathana College 10 (1T,1C,1P)
St. Peter’s continued to play a fast-paced game, and on the 6th minute of play in the second half, Yumeth Shihara broke the Pathana defence line with a superb run and made a timely pass to Dineth Ranasinghe as he sprinted into the left corner for the third try for game. (SPC 20 – 10 IC)
The Pathana Forwards put on a solid show as their rolling maul gained some valuable yards forward, and they continued to play some patient phases from close-range as Damiru Rajapaksa powered himself over the line. Rinesh Silva added the extras from his boot to cut the deficit to 3 points. (SPC 20 – 17 IC)
St. Peter’s were feeling the pressure, but the back line stood up to make an impressive move as Pasindu Bandara along with Sudesh Jayawickrama, opened up the Isipathana defence to send the Full Back Kushan Tharindu over the whitewash to increase the lead to 8 points. (SPC 25 – 17 IC)
The icing on the cake for the Peterites was placed by the fullback Kushan Tharindu as he slotted over an important three points, which ensured that the glory days of winning the Schools Rugby League were back for the Bamba Brigade after a lapse of 13 years.
Full Time: St. Peter’s College 28 (4T,1C,2P) – Isipathana College 17 (2T,2C,1P)
NDB Player of the Match: Windya De Mel (St. Peter’s College)
St. Peter’s College: 28
Tries: Yumeth Shihara, Dulaj Navodya , Kushan Tharindu, Dineth Ranasinghe, Con: Yumeth Shihara; Pens: Yumeth Shihara, Kushan Tharindu
Isipathana College 17
Tries: Rinesh Silva, Damiru Rajapaksa Cons: Rinesh Silva (2); Pen: Rinesh Silva