2006-10-27 / Sports

Fisheads One Win From Clinching Rugby Play-Off At Home

In one of the more phenomenal turnarounds in recent New York Rugby history, the "left for dead" Rockaway Fisheads have come nearly all the way back from oblivion. Stumbling to a 0-2 start to the Fall season, few if any gave the Fisheads a chance to have a respectable Autumn campaign.

So much for the experts. Rockaway won their 4th consecutive match at Montclair New Jersey last Saturday, easily besting the host Norseman RFC 27-15. The win put the Fisheads in the proverbial "catbird's seat" for their final match of the season. A win at Fort Tilden on Saturday November 4th will lock up an unlikely second place finish and a home play-off game for the locals. To quote a phrase, "Whodda thunk it?"

"I never doubted that we could put ourselves in this position, despite the poor start" said player coach Bob Johnson. "What I especially liked was the attitude after the Montclair game. The guys didn't let 4 in a row go to their heads. They know we need 5 in order to make this turnaround complete." Rockaway will face a very tough Village Lions (New York City) side in the season finale and know they will have their hands full. "The Lions are a good team and they have play-off aspirations of their own. Both teams have a lot to play for" said Kermit Egan, the erstwhile Rockaway veteran.

"We were in a position to go undefeated and lock up home field throughout the play-offs last year. All we needed was a win at home against Union on the last week of the season. We didn't get it done and lost by 2 points. We ended up on the road and lost a tough match at Charles River. We don't want to travel until we absolutely have to. A home play-off game would be huge and maybe we could keep this thing going all the way to a championship" said the optimistic but guarded Grouch McCann. We have to beat the team in front of us, and right now it's the Village Lions."

Rockaway seems to be a train gathering momentum and rolled over Montclair despite what seemed to be a fairly tight score. The locals had their way throughout the contest and used their big men to dominate the Norseman. Mike The Russian found the try zone twice in the first half as the pack drove him over with textbook driving mauls. The backs, paced by the "Killer Kiwis", added a few points and the Fisheads took a 22-5 halftime lead.

Against a severe wind and suffering a few minor injuries, the locals more or less treaded water for the second stanza. Rockaway scored once and yielded 2 scores to the feisty Norseman, but the issue was never in doubt. The Fisheads finshed off the Norseman 27-15 and looked ahead to the Village Lions and a date with destiny on November 4th.

"The loss at home last year still hurts" said forward Phil Tufano, referring to Rockaway's disappointing defeat at the hands of Union on the season's final weekend last year. "We had it all in our hands and let it slip away. I don't want to ever have that feeling again. We did something amazing this year, but it won't mean anything unless we finish this thing up like champions. We have to beat the Lions and we should beat the Lions. It's really that simple. If we don't, we will only have ourselves to blame. We have one hurdle to clear and I think we will do it."

Tufano's cautious optimism seemed to be the prevailing sentiment on a team that has clawed it way back to the cusp of something great. "We are nearly there....but not yet" said John "Oakey" O'Connor. "We need the fans to turn out and help us finish this thing up the way we should."

Game time is 1:00 p.m. at Ft. Tilden on Saturday November 4th. Turn out and support your Rugby Fisheads and join in what hopefully will be a celebration at the Rugby Clubhouse (114 St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd). BE THERE!!!!!!

RUGGER PLUGGERS: "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Thats usually true, but the well mannered and pleasant Jack McCann appears to have landed a few orchards away from his infamous father.

Kemely is now known as "Johnny Cash" out on the wing. With jerseys available, the man in black refused to change.

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