It was quite a one sided affair at the Milo President’s trophy schools knockout final played at the Racecourse yesterday with the lads of Isipathana proving once again that they are undisputedly kings of rugby this season. Royal College suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of the green machine with the final scoreboard reading 47 points to 12 in what was supposed to be a tightly contested final but instead Isipathana ran circles round the Royal defence to pierce through and score as many as seven tries to Royal’s two. The final scoreline Isipathana 47 (7 tries, 6 conversions) to Royal’s 12 (2 tries, 1 conversion) tells the story of how dominant the Pathana team was.
This victory by Isipathana was one of the best in a Pathana-Royal match for20 years beating the previous best of 40 points to nil win by the Royal in 1976 under Skanda Fernando. Pathana’s execution in the match was a tribute to their master tactical young head coach Nilfer Ibrahim and his assistant Terence Henry. They laid out a superb plan which in the end, the entire team put into action enabling them to nail the far more superior forwards play of the Royalists.
Isipathana’s entire forwards played like terriers in the loose as well as in the set pieces and the break downs winning abundance of positions through turn overs enabling their much more fancied three quarters to plant all the tries in the end. Even in the rucks, mauls and scrums the entire gallant Pathana forwards matched weight to weight and sometimes out shone the much more fancied Royal forwards. Isipathana’s front three were the unsung heroes behind this victory with a superb defensive display carried out through the entire 80 minutes. Surprisingly Isipathana dished out this unbelievable display even without a ground, gym or a swimming pool of their own.
Many expected a grudge battle between the marauding Royal eight and the nimble- footed Isipathana backs. The opening few minutes seemed like the predictions were right. Isipthana’s game plan was quite clear from the start as they opted to swing the ball to both corners of the pitch rather than clear their lines. But Royal was ready and initially their drift defense proved effective as they turned over possession inside the Isipathana 22 and launched their trademark ‘pick and goes’ from close quarters while always on the prowl to win that crucial penalty advantage which would help them set the platform for their deadly rolling maul.
Royal won two penalties inside the opening five minutes and opted for the rolling maul. However, they came up empty handed on both occasions as Isipathana countered it well and drove them back. Isipathana opened scoring in the 12 minute when off a three quarter move vice-captain cum centre Sumudhu Rankothge went through the Royal defence to score mid right. Full back Gayan Wickramaratne made the conversion and Pathana went into a 7-nil lead.
The green shirts further extended their lead with to 12 nil when Rankothge and Ranidhu Pramodh drew in the Royal defense flinging the ball out wide, which was followed by an inside pass to captain Kushan Indunil who collected the ball with one hand before giving an bold no look over head pass to his fly half Randy Silva who touched down near the corner flag.
Wickramrathne could not add the difficult extras but ‘Pathana’ led 12nil. In the 37th minute Royal scrum half Ashok Wijeykumar crashed through for a try off a penalty tap and fly half Ovin Askey fired across the conversion to cut down the lead to 12-7.
Just on the stroke of half time, Pathana winger Chamod Fernando collected a ball from a three quarter move and made a daring break and gave a superb off load to Indunil who scampered through for a try close to the right upright. This time, Wickramaratne slotted the conversion and Isipathana went into lemons with the scoreboard reading 19-7.
After the resumption in the 46th minute, Isipathana scored again, when off a three quarter move their scrum half Harith Bandara made a spectacular break and gave an inside pass to flanker Adeesha Weeratunge who in return gave an off load to Randy Silva who fell over for a try. Wickramaratne made the conversion and Pathana went led 26-7. In an attempt to bridge the gap Royal used their infamous rolling maul to score a try using their hooker Azmir Fajjudeen but failed to bisect the post and add the extra points.
Vice captain cum centre Rankothge crashed through to touch down under the post for a brilliant try. Wickramaratne made the conversion to take the score to 33-12. Within a couple of minutes Pathana further increased their lead when their open side winger Ranindu Padmasanka made a superb break and sent Randy Silva over for his third try of the match. Padmasanka made the conversion and Isipathana increased their tally to 40-12.
Isipathana virtually sealed the match in the closing stages of the game when their dynamic number eight Vageesha Weerasinghe broke through the blind side of the scrum and sent his speedy winger Padmasanka over the Royal defence to score a spectacular try under the post after covering nearly 85 metres. Padmasanka made the simple conversion to take the final score an impressive 47-12.
Isipathana’s young half back Harith Bandara was adjudged the best player of the tournament.
Referee: Rohan Fernando
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