Rockaway Fisheads Get Off The "Schneid"With Home Win
The Rockaway Fisheads got back on the winning track last Saturday with a 27-19 home win over the Princeton (New Jersey) Rugby Club. Rockaway got a much needed reprieve after dropping their first 2 contests and stumbling to a 0-2 start in what was widely expected to be a dominant Fall season for the locals.
"As per usual, we made it tough on ourselves from the get-go" said the always divisive but undeniably courageous Grouch McCann. "Those first 2 matches are behind us and we are only looking ahead. We got a victory at home today and now we should start to get on a roll. We can run the table from here and start fresh in the play-offs."
McCann's view seemed to be the consensus opinion amongst the resurgent Fisheads and they certainly have reason for optimism. The locals jumped all over a very well drilled and speedy Princeton side, racing out to a 24-0 halftime lead and dominating play in all phases. The visiting New Zealanders provided some early points as did young up and comer "Shaggy" who notched his first A-side try from 30 meters out at the wing. Kevin Wrafter was brilliant in the kicking game, hitting 2 drop goals and some very difficult conversions for the Fisheads. All seemed to be well in hand at the mid-break.
Coach Bob Johnson decided to empty his bench and made wholesale substitutions at the half that may have disrupted team chemistry to a degree. Princeton was able to climb back into it, scoring 19 hard earnedpoints while holding Rockaway to a scant 3 points for the entire second stanza. "I need to think about the future", said the always pragmatic Fisheads player-coach. I know we could have shut them down and scored more if we kept the entire first side on. But where does that get us in the long run? Guys like Phil Tufano and Mike the Russian have more days behind them than in front of them.
"(It's the) same for a lot of our first teamers. They are steady and reliable and don't make mistakes, but they are not the future. We have to develop young talent and these are the games that allow you to do that. They have to be tested under true pressure and regardless of the score, an A-side match is a step up for the youngsters. Will they make mistakes? Of course, but how else do you learn? We will be doing that whenever we get the chance and will
continue to look forward by allowing young players to experience high level competition. B games are goodfor development but you have to get out there when the money's on the line if you want to take the next step up."
While the vets may not necessarily like it, Johnson's philosophy is acknowledged to be in the best interests of the club and accepted if not embraced The locals head back on the road and visit rebuilding Monmouth this week in hopes of evening their record at 2-2. "We are not taking them for granted by any means said the enigmatic Barry Cowhead. Every game is tough in this league, and road games are especially difficult. We had our 2 "mulligans" already so we have to be at our best."
Kermit Egan is questionable for the game with an injured shoulder, as is the suddenly MIA Oscar Prince. With those 2 question marks, even a seemingly easy mark becomes complicated.
Which Fisheads team will show up? This writer has given up trying to predict such things. We will know the answer to that and many other questions at about 3:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Monmouth.