By M. Shamil Amit
A penalty in front of the posts booted over by Chamod Fernando during the dying stages of the game enabled Isipathana College to record a close two-point win over St. Peter’s College in the second semi-final of the Milo U20 President’s Trophy inter-school rugby knockout tournament played at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday.
In fact these were the only points for Pathana in the second half after having taken a lead 19-12 at the breather which saw them coming out victorious by 22 points to 20.
Isipathana made up their points through two goals, a try and a penalty against the goal, two tries and a penalty scored by the Peterites. But what matters is that the win saw Isipathana qualifying for the knockout final for the 22nd time since it began in 1985.
For purposes of record this is the 14th Milo knockout final that they will be playing since Nestle, under the brand of Milo, began sponsoring this tournament in 1995.
In all, Isipathana have won the knockout title a record ten times. The win also saw Isipathana avenging their league championship loss to the Peterites earlier in the season.
From the word go Isipathana went into the attack as they meant business and fittingly it was Isipathana who made the first scoring in the fifth minute through a try scored by No 8 Devin Gunaratne and centre Manika Sulakshana made no mistake with the conversion for them to lead 07-00.
The Pathanians gave the Peterites some anxious moments and succeeded to increase the lead five minutes later with fly half Randy Silva’s try and Sulakshana converted to make it 14-00.
From thereon the two sides shared possession and the Peterites succeeded to put up their first scoring on the board with No 8 Angelo Mendis going over for an unconverted try.
This followed with Isipathana raising its tempo and off a forwards move sent winger Ramitha Himash for a try by the right corner flag which saw the difficult conversion going astray but Isipathana stretched their lead to 19-05.
In a tense battle for the ball that ensued the Peterites took the challenge to the Pathana territory and their hooker Julian Gratian powered his way following a few phases for an under the posts try on the brink of half time, which gave centre Theekshana Dassanayake an easy kick at goal.
On resumption the Peterites executed a different game plan and dominated the proceedings. They gave Ispathana some torrid moments and succeeded to force a penalty in the 20th minute which Theekshana Dassanayake kicked correctly.
The Peterites pumped up by the penalty continued to torment the opponent's which ended in Theekshana Dassanayake blazing through for an unconverted try which helped them into a one point lead 20=19.
However, Isipathana who are famed for their do or die efforts invaded the Peterite territory and forced an infringement giving Chamod Fernando a penalty right in front of the posts. Chamod fired across the all important penalty with ease.
Referee – Dinka Peiris
Picture by Kushan Pathiraja