Rodrigo’s last-gasp penalty steers Joes to K/O final | Daily News

Rodrigo’s last-gasp penalty steers Joes to K/O final

Action from the match between St. Joseph’s and Wesley.  (Pic by Wasitha Patabendige)
Action from the match between St. Joseph’s and Wesley. (Pic by Wasitha Patabendige)

Ruchitha Rodrigo fired across a last-minute penalty under fading light to steer St. Joseph’s College to a tense 16-13 victory over Wesley College in a gripping President’s Trophy Inter-Schools Under-20 Knock-Out Rugby Tournament second semi-final encounter played at Havelock Park yesterday.

St. Joseph’s will now take on the reigning ‘A’ Division League champions Isipathana College in the 2022 President’s Trophy Knock-Out Tournament final this week at the same venue.

This was also the second time that St. Joseph’s had defeated Wesley this season having earlier won their League Tournament Super Round segment encounter more convincingly 26-11 at the same venue.

But this time the game turned out to be an absolute thriller as the contest went into extra time after the scores were level 13-13 at the completion of the normal 70 minutes of play.

The Joes did all the scoring in the second half as they came back strongly to challenge their opponents while collecting their points from one goal and two penalties while the Wesleyites responded with two tries and one penalty.

In fact, Wesley had the chance to wrap-up the game shortly before the final whistle during the normal time had they added the extra points to their second try scored by Skipper Tharusha Jayaweera.

However, their reliable place kicker Shaveen Jayawardena fumbled with the conversion while kicking under tremendous pressure and the match went into extra time with the team scoring first emerging victorious.

Rodrigo, who emerged as the unlikely hero, missed a 40-metre penalty in the first half of extra time, but he made no mistake with his second attempt after the St. Joseph’s forwards had gained good ground following a five-metre line-out.

Earlier, Wesley dominated the first half through some excellent passage of play and scored their first try in the 22nd minute with winger Nithila Rodrigo going over near the corner flag after some good distribution of the ball from fly half Shane Hopwood.

However, St. Joseph’s started the second half in a positive manner with fly half Dilhara Subash firing across two crucial penalties to put the lads from Darley Road in front for the first time in the game.

St. Joseph’s further extended their lead when prop forward Jehan Athukorala barged over for a push over try in the 56th minute giving Subash an easy conversion.

But in a desperate attempt to make a match of it, Wesley staged a do-or-die battle and they succeeded with a 70th-minute try from Jayaweera, that forced the game into extra time.


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