Isipathana survived an early second-half rally before defeating St. Joseph’s 49-22 in the President’s Trophy Inter-Schools Under-20 Knock-Out Rugby Tournament final at Havelock Park yesterday.
Unbeaten Isipathana, who had earlier won the ‘A’ Division League Championship, completed a grand double as they extended their winning streak to 10 matches this season.
Isipathana lived up to expectations as the favourites by dominating this high-scoring final with four goals, three tries and two penalties after having taken a commanding 27-0 lead at half time.
Isipathana also won the President’s Trophy for the 11th time and their first knock-out title since their heroics in 2016.
St. Joseph’s, the ‘A’ Division League runner-up, were always up against it despite a good second half performance and finished with two goals, one try and one penalty.
Isipathana’s outstanding first-half performance completely blew the Josephian defence with three tries coming in the first 30 minutes of play.
After Malith Boteju had opened the scoring with a 25-metre penalty, Kenula Mihisara added the finishing touches to a superb three-quarter move.
Few minutes later, fly half Naveen Kanishka scythed through the St. Joseph’s defence to fall over under the post, and it needed the Television Match Official (TMO) to confirm the player had properly grounded the ball.
Boteju converted both tries and later put over his second penalty to give Isipathana a 20-0 lead after 29 minutes.
Isipathana then worked their three-quarters from their own territory and after gaining good ground hooker Venura Kodagoda touched down for a superb try on the stroke of half time.
After the turnaround, St. Joseph’s stormed back into the game with a brace of tries from their dynamic number eight Naveen Marasinghe and flanker Sachinthana Waidyanada to reduce the margin to eight points midway in the second half.
But Isipathana struck back like a true champion side and added four more tries during the last 10 minutes of play to complete a memorable victory.
Centre Praveen Stephan powered his way to score following a beautiful three-quarter move, and flanker Sooriya Dodangoda also put his name on the scoresheet by falling over from a five-metre scrum.
Scrum half Shehandu de Costa added more misery for St. Joseph’s with a nice blind side try, and flanker Wewala Pandith scored the last try for Isipathana in the dying moments of the game.