Isipathana College made the unthinkable happen when they made mincemeat out of a hapless Royal College outfit in the Milo Schools Knock-out final which turned out to be a one-sided game.
The Green Shirts recorded the highest score in an under-20 schools knock-out rugby final by running down seven magnificent tries as against two touchdowns by Royal. The final score read 47 to 12 in favour of Isipathana College, which also won the inter-school league rugby tournament this season.
There was more team work in the Isipathana win rather than individual showmanship. Every player was aware that there were 14 others on the field. The match was witnessed by a full capacity crowd and the only thing missing last Wednesday was the fighting spirit that Royal College showed throughout the season. They paid dearly for this lack of punch in their moves. Isipathana College led 19-7 at the ‘breather’.
One of the outstanding features of this Isipathana side was that they played the game wide. When in possession of the ball the winners displayed their ability to take the ball forward. Deft footwork was backed by polished skills. It was heartening to see members of the Isipathana team creating openings for each other. There was no hesitation nor mental blocks when the flow of play demanded the ball to change hands freely among players.
Despite the encouraging team work that helped them immensely there was one player who stood out for his brilliance. He was the team’s fly half Randy de Silva who scored a hat-trick of tries.
If there was any life in the Royal camp, Isipathana snuffed it out with a brilliant performance in the first half by scoring three dandy tries. Sumudu Rankothge, Randy de Silva and skipper Kushan Indunil crossed the Royal College try line as easy as taking a walk in the park. Gayan Wickremaratne slotted in two conversions. Royal’s response came in the form of a try by Ashok Wijekumar which was converted by Ovin Askey.
At half time, many a spectator would have possibly thought whether Royal was a worthy finalist. Isipathana had shown through their initial performance all the signs of opening out in the second half. Between tea and something to bite during half time the crowd perhaps thought what a thriller it would have been if S. Thomas’ made it to the final to lock horns with Isipathana.
This writer isn’t in favour of postponements and court cases when it comes solving rugby’s problems. But it was encouraging to see the Minister of Education intervening to see that Isipathana’s request to play the final at a neutral venue saw the light of day.
Coming back to the rugby, the second half began with a bang even before the eatables at tea could be digested and spectators comfortably settled in their seats. Isipathana was in a disruptive mood and punched four more holes in the Royal College defence.
Randy de Silva (2), Rankothge (1) and winger Padmasanka (1) were bursting with energy and there was no stopping when they exploded into action. De Silva’s first try in the second half was a beauty which underscored the importance of teamwork. Harith Bandara made a break and Adeesha Weeratunge fed the move by joining in before the fly half went over. But there was also one of those trademark Isipathana runs down the flank later on. Winger Padmasanka took a pass inside his own 22 and ran almost 80 metres to slice through a Royal defence which was hanging in pieces by now. He himself added the extra points to this try.
Royal earned a consolation try in the second half when Azmi Fajudeen crashed through for a try.
Isipathana College made amends for losing out on the trophy last year by crowning themselves as the knock-out champions. Celebrations would have lasted throughout the evening and late into the night. But what was so important was that Isipathana’s win produced the effect of a lovely perfume which will leave their rugby fragrant till the next season begins again.