Fisheads Storm To Second Straight Home Win
The Rockaway Fisheads Rugby team moved its record to 3-0 this past Saturday at Ft. Tilden, with a 22-8 win over a very game Princeton Athletic Club side. Rockaway retained its share of first place in the Metropolitan Rugby Union Division 2 standings, setting up a showdown with the 3-0 Montauk Sharks this weekend at Ft. Tilden. Sole possession of first place is on the line and the stakes couldn’t be higher at this point in the season.
Veteran Grouch McCann had this to say on the looming showdown with their old foes from the east end: “This week was great in that a lot of our players turned out and we exercised true home field advantage. We will need an equally strong showing to beat Montauk. It’s always a great match and even though we have beaten them in our most recent meetings, they will be motivated. We can’t be too cocky with our record so far. In my opinion, we have yet to play a complete match. We will have to play our best, in all phases, this week to beat the Sharks. If we don’t, we are in for a rude awakening.”
Getting to this weeks first place showdown with Montauk was not easy, as the determined Princeton Athletic Club came to town last Saturday at 1-1 and with grand plans of their own. Princeton was very young and short on reserves, but gave as well as they took in the first stanza. Princeton moved ahead 3-0 early, converting a patented Mike The Russian “hand in the ruck” infraction to points. Most of the half was a stalemate, as both sides battled between the 22 meter lines but rarely threatened to score. Rockaway was able to execute a rolling maul late in the half, scoring a try from 15 meters out and taking a 5-3 lead. The conversion failed and the locals went to halftime ahead at 5-3.
Princeton was strong in their resolve but the veteran Fisheads began to slowly turn the screws in the second half. In a surprising development, Tim Kelly was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes for excessive roughness. Even more surprising was the ability of the Fisheads to score twice while short handed. Turning the adversity of the day in their favor, Rockaway punched in 2 tries. Luke the Aussie took one in from 20 meters out on a great pass from Lee Osbourne, followed shortly thereafter by another driving maul to paydirt. Rockaway was now up 19-5 with about 15 minutes to play.
The 2 sides traded penalty goals and the game ended at 22-8 in favor of the Fisheads. Rockaway haddone enough to beat the surprisingly tough visitors but, as Grouch McCann stated in the aforementioned passage, they did not play a “complete” game. This week’s match with Montauk will require the elimination of careless errors and a sharpness we have yet to see despite the locals 3-0 record to date.
Veteran Barry “Cow-Head” expressed cautious optimism: “Our club has a history of playing up to the level of our competition. We also have a bad habit of playing down to the level of certain opposition as well. The mark of a good team is the ability to win even when you are not at your best.
John (The Grouch McCann) may be right in his assessment of our first 3 victories. “We weren’t at our best but those were good teams we beat. It makes you wonder what we will be like when we are firing on all cylinders. This week we will find out and I know we will be at our best.” The Fisheads and their fans are hoping Cowhead is right.....we shall soon find out.
RUGGER PLUGGERS: Turn out at Ft. Tilden Saturday at 1:00 for what promises to be one of the great rugby
showdowns in a long time. Rockaway Vs. Montauk: The rugby equivalent of Ali-Frazier every time!!! B side won convincingly again as they remain undefeated as well. Many are clamoring for the call up to the big team as Bob Johnson struggles each week with selections. Ron Kemely continues his rapid ascension as a rugby player, cementing his starting A side spot with “lights out” performances every week. Oscar Prince dropped a “gimme” and earned a stern warning about his pre-game activities.
Mark the rocket arrived late, but better late than never. Tommy the Bald eagle performed very well in the B match and may be promoted shortly. Dan “Spicoli” Lunny not present but oldie tune “Wipeout” was heard clearly from the shore. Any connection? “Explosion Head” Brendan Lunny has yet to make an appearance. The “highly respected” missing player, known in some circles as “Seameus”, was spotted at The Cabana in Long Beach. No word on his return. This page cannot understand how the referees can label Tim Kelly a dirty player.....in lower case lettering. Oakie “The Lariet” O’Connor up to his old tricks again. Rumor has it the Met Union will authorize neck braces for any Rockaway opponent who wishes to use them.
(Due to space limitations, last week’s article could not be printed.) Fisheads Win 18-15 At Home September 24
Sometimes, for whatever reason, in whatever sport, teams just don’t have it on a given day. Such was the case last Saturday at Ft. Tilden as the hometown Rockaway Fisheads Rugby Club was out of sync, out of sorts, and even out of their minds at certain points in a less than artistic home victory.
The visiting Village Lions (NYC), a veritable clay pigeon for the Fisheads in recent years, rolled into town with a bad attitude and victory on their minds. Rockaway was caught flatfooted and nearly let the match slip away from them on their home pitch. Unable to finish their plays and produce points, the locals were watching a disaster unfold as time ticked away in what seemed like a long march to oblivion for the home team.
Several untimely penalties in Rockaway territory would prove costly as the visiting Lions were able to get two tries and close out the half with a 10-6 lead. The halftime “pow-wow” produced more questions than answers. The locals really couldn’t pinpoint their troubles other than to conclude that they had to do better in the second stanza.
Strong defense kept the Fisheads in the match, but the Lions came up with another try at the 20 minute mark of the second half and their 15-6 lead looked comfortable with about 15 left to play. It was at that point that player coach Bob Johnson and the injured veteran Kermit Egan would execute a tactical substitution that ultimately won the match.
Reasoning that Rockaway needed the calming presence of the veteran Egan, Johnson did the Rugby equivelant of a “double switch”, inserting Egan at scrumhalf, and moving Lunny to the backs. In order to do this, he had to take Phil Tufano out of the game, initially substituting Egan for Tufano (roughly a 100 pound weight difference) at second row, while opting to leave the younger and fresher Adam Lynch in at the other lock for the duration. Tufano didn’t like it but he dutifully left the field in deference to the cagey Johnson’s intuition. Grouch McCann was then moved to second row, and Sebastian the Kiwi to flanker. With the re-shuffle complete, fortunes began to turn in the ensuing minutes.
Egan began to “quarterback” the team and get them moving in unison. Rockaway scored a try with about 8 minutes to play, but still trailed by 2. With 2 minutes to play, the newly inserted Kermit Egan spotted open space on the right side, deep in Lions territory. Kicking the ball ahead to that area, he began to chase the ball in hopes of recovering his own kick and possibly scoring.
He wouldn’t need to. Scampering down the right sideline was Adam Lynch, who recovered the bouncing ball and ran it in for the win. Lynch never flinched from the pressure and validated Johnson’s decision to keep him on the field instead of the veteran Tufano. Rockaway left the field with an 18-15 victory and moved to 2-0 and first place in their division. It won’t show up in the boxscore, but Johnson’s tactical and situational genius proved to be decisive. Egan and Lynch, the two players most involved in the late personnel shuffle combined for the win. Sometimes it just works out that way.
Rugger Pluggers: The B side played a blinder and defeated the Lion’s B’s handily. Great effort by the Carribean Cougars: (Mark and Oscar), Tippy, Arthur “Oocch” Boyland and Tim Kelly who played 2 for Rockaway. Phil Tufano made up for his lost minutes in the A match with a full B match and a try. Great job by the B side…They actually looked better than the A side on this particular Saturday. In the parlance of the late, great Gorilla Monsoon: “Grouch McCann was busted wide open!!...take a look Jesse, McCann is wearing the Crimson Mask!!!!”
There is a Rockaway Rugger who apparently still has his watch set to Quebec City time. If you should see him, tell him the season started two weeks ago. We can’t reveal his name, but here are some clues: He is highly respected in the neighborhood and may answer to the name “Seamus”. Unbeknownst to map makers, there is a second prime meridian that passes directly through Rockaway Beach, causing all residents to be one hour behind schedule. Does Jim Turchiano have a double? The one who saw Oakie at the Harbor Light last Friday said he was playing, yet the one who didn’t show up Saturday until late in the game told a different tale. No sign of Trevor Tubridy but Kevin Stony Brook was spotted on the sidelines.
REMEMBER: “The measure of a man’s character is his promptness.”