Joes defend Peterites’ Bridge too Far | Sunday Observer

Joes defend Peterites’ Bridge too Far

St. Joseph’s College players celebrate with the Fr. Basil Wiratunga trophy
St. Joseph’s College players celebrate with the Fr. Basil Wiratunga trophy

St. Peter’s College came for the kill but were given an unforgettable lesson in defence by arch rivals St. Joseph’s College who won their inter-school League rugby match 10-5 staying as firm as a rock on a rain-soaked ground that stirred up porridge-like mud at Longden Place in Colombo yesterday.

If ever a team won a match on defence alone, the Joes showed it could be done. For never did a team defend an entire half and not come near even once to score while clinging on to a mere five points lead as the Joes did and their coach Nilfer Ibrahim must easily be rugby’s minister of defence if the sport needs one.

Although wet conditions may have deprived both teams from a better and open contest, the Joes appeared to have come prepared for anything the Peterites had. They deserved their goose and the Peterites will never ever be blessed again with the chances they had of ripping apart their opponents while moving in as the favoured team with an unbeaten record.

In hindsight, where the Peterites lost was undoubtedly in the first ten minutes of the game when Joes winger Tharindu Maduranga and prop Shevon Gregory crossed the line for tries.

There was nothing spectacular about the tries. It was just that the Peterites missed their tackles, a shocking contrast to how the Joes went about their business.

Maduranga’s match was however cut short midway in the first half when referee Akil Jamaldeen gave him marching orders with a red card for unleashing an illegal spear-tackle on a Peterite opponent.

But the Joes were never deterred being reduced to 14 players while the Peterites set up camp with phase after phase a few feet away from their target line on as many as six continuous occasions only to expend their ammunition and go back for regrouping.

By then the Joes were smelling victory, as their defence in forwards-play was everything that mattered and they did not even have to attack to win the contest.

Perhaps the Peterites may have played to go back and weep that they did not try or could not do anything with their backline that threatened the Joes on one occasion in the first half when their fly-half Kenneth Wimaladasa made a smashing run covering some 40 metres only to slip in the mud a metre away from touchdown with under a minute left for half time.

Wimaladasa gave the Peterites their first try 10 minutes before the first half ended to reduce the margin 5-10 and the better side lost.