By Chris Dhambarage
St. Joseph’s College powered their way into the Milo Schools President’s Trophy Knock-Out Rugby Tournament final with a smashing 34-12 victory over Dharmaraja College in the first semi-final encounter played at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Saturday (17).
The Josephians after having built up a crucial 16-5 lead at half time went on to consolidate their position in the second half and collected their points from two goals, one try and five penalties.
The Rajans of course were always up against it and came under tremendous pressure from the kick-off as they managed to score only a goal and a try in the end.
St. Joseph’s success had a great amount of significance as they also secured a place in the President’s Trophy Knock-Out Tournament final for the first time in the history.
The architect behind their victory was Sachith Silva who gave his side a flying start by converting three back-to-back penalties and scoring the first try to complete a fantastic first half.
Dharmaraja’s only moment of success in the first half was when E. M. Ekanayake touched down for a splendid try shortly before the interval with Deshappriya missing the conversion.
The Rajans then brought the game alive soon after the break as they reduced the deficit to just four points (12-16) when B. Udangamuwa went over for a beautiful try with Deshappriya adding the extra points.
But from there onwards St. Joseph’s took control of the situation as they further extended the lead to 22-12 midway in the second half following two more penalties from Sachith Silva.
The Joes then virtually sealed the contest in their favour by scoring two magnificent tries through their dynamic fly half ChaturaSeneviratne and Skipper Vinul Fernando during the latter stages of the game.
Sachith Silva was off target with the last conversion but nevertheless St. Joseph’s were able to emerge victorious by a convincing margin of 34-12 and more importantly book their place in next Sunday’s final at the Race Course Grounds.
17:55 - Full-time - An easy win for St. Joseph's College. St. Joseph's 34, Dharmaraja 12
17:43 - Vinul Fernando adds more points for the Josephians with an uncoverted try. Lead now 23. St. Joseph's 34, Dharmaraja 12
17:39 - Chathura Seneviratne scores s try for St. Joseph's. Sachin Silva converts. St. Joseph's 29, Dharmaraja 12
17:31 - Sachin Silva puts over his fifth penalty. St. Joseph's 22, Dharmaraja 12
17:17 - Sachin Silva scores his fourth penalty to increase the lead to 7. St. Joseph's 19, Dharmaraja 12
17:16 - B. Udangamuwa scores for Dharmaraja to cut the deficit. St. Joseph's 16, Dharmaraja 12
17:11 - Second half begins
17:02 - St. Joseph's lead at half-time. St. Joseph's 16, Dharmaraja 05
16:47 - E. M. Ekanayake scores an uncoverted try for Dharmaraja. St. Joseph's 16, Dharmaraja 05
16:43 - Sachin Silva on the scoresheet again, this time with a try which he converts. St. Joseph's 16, Dharmaraja 00
16:36 - A third penalty from Sachin Silva gives St. Joseph's a 09-00 lead.
16:27 - Sachin Silva adds another penalty. St. Joseph's College 06, Dharmaraja 00
16:24 - Sachin Silva puts St. Joseph's in the lead with a penalty. St. Joseph's 03, Dharmaraja 00
16:15 - Match kicks off
By Chris Dhambarage
Two equally good teams Dharmaraja College and St. Joseph’s College will be looking to book a final berth when they clash in the Milo Schools President’s Trophy Knock-Out Rugby Tournament first semi-final encounter at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Saturday (17).
The Rajans of course are yet to play a match in the knock-out tournament after they received a walk over from the newly crowned league champions Royal College in the quarter-final fixture.
In contrast, the Josephians are brimming with a great amount of confidence as they had the satisfaction of knocking out one of the favourites Wesley College 43-29 in a high scoring quarter-final encounter played at the same venue last week.
St. Joseph’s will also have a psychological advantage going into this vital game as they were able to beat the same opponents quite convincingly 44-10 earlier in a league tournament match at Longden Place.
However, since then Dharmaraja have bounced back into recognition with some outstanding performances in the league tournament where they were able to secure the runners-up position in the Plate Championship.
In fact, the Rajans missed out the great opportunity of winning the Plate title as they had to settle for the number two position after having scored few tries than the ultimate champions St. Anthony’s College.
At the completion of the league, both teams had the identical track record of having scored five victories from their six outings with a solitary defeat each.
The Rajans also had a fantastic chance to make a statement but their hopes were shattered when they received a walk over from Royal in the quarter-final encounter.
Now they believe they have another chance to prove themselves and they are also just one step away from making it to the President’s Trophy final for the first time in the history.
Dharmaraja have been in the forefront of schools rugby for quite a sometime but they have not won many titles and their previous achievement was when they emerged league champions in 2013 under the captaincy of RochanaHettiarachchi.
St. Joseph’s also strongly believe that they have a great chance of making their first appearance in a President’s Trophy Tournament final after having produced some breathtaking rugby during the latter stages of the league tournament.
The key player for the Joes will be their dynamic full back GemunuChethiya who is currently in tremendous form after having produced a match winning performance last week where he scored a hat-trick of tries in the quarter-final match against Wesley.
Dharmaraja’s main concern will be the lack of match practices going into a key fixture as they had played very few games after the conclusion of the Singer Under-20 League Tournament.