Fisheads Seize The Day And Clinch Home Playoff
The Rockaway Fisheads returned to the scene of a one year old crime last Saturday at Ft. Tilden with a chance to rectify and put the error to rest. Rockaway blew their chances for a first place finish and home field play-off advantage in 2005 with a 10-8 home loss to the Union RFC on the final day of the 2005 season.
Still smarting from that ignominious defeat, Rockaway took full advantage of their chance for redemption and ran all over the visiting Village Lions Rugby Club by a 38-17 final tally. In doing so, the Fisheads secured a second place finish at 5-2,
homefield advantage for the first round of the ERU play-offs, and the satisfaction of having confounded the experts who counted them out after an 0-2 start to the season.
It may have been Rockaways finest performance in years as they had every aspect of their game in sync and working nearly flawlessly throughout the entire match. The locals took nothing for granted, however, taking two penalty kicks in the early going in lieu of trying to score a try. Playing well but taking no chances, Rockaway nursed a 6-0 lead thanks to the reliable foot of Kevin Wrafter. Midway through the first half, Rockaway had their one lapse of the match, allowing the Lions to score a try and take a 7-6 lead.
Rockaway answered right back on the ensuing possession as Brian O'Grady took the ball in for a score putting the Fisheads ahead to stay. The Lions would fight back and pulled to within 24-12 at one point but the locals eventually pulled away in the later part of the second half. It was a complete victory and really might have been the Fisheads finest hour in recent memory.
"I am thrilled to have won, but even more excited about the manner in which we won," said Ash The Flash, New Zealand import and Rugby phenomena. "We got rid of a sour taste in our mouths and now it looks very good for our chances in the play-offs. We definitely took another step today." Fellow Kiwi's Ratman, Chase and Brendan also stood out, with Brendan taking man of the match honors for his blinding runs and overall solid play.
Rockaway has been playing with a sense of urgency due not only to a poor start this season, but the age of the current roster. "The time for us to claim a championship is NOW" said player/coach Bob Johnson.
"We are approching an inevitable rebuilding stage in the next 2-3 years and cannot assume we will be in this position again. This is the time to make it happen. Some of our vets will be hanging them up in the not too distant future and they know its right here for them if they go out and get it now."
With Grouch McCann, Tim Kelly, Mike The Russian, Oakie O'Connor, Phil Tufano, Kevin Wrafter, and even local family man Tyrone Sperling nearing or over age 40, the Fisheads need to seize the opportunity they have earned and complete their long quest for a title.
Play-offs are normally slated for the spring due to inclement fall weather at seasons end, but Rockaway will push to have the first round played before November is out. "We would like to keep going while we are hot" said Ron Kemly. "If the other teams are agreeable, maybe we can play the first round now.
Winning a play-off and heading into winter with a chance to continue on during the spring would be a nice end to this season. It wasn't easy for us but we battled back and won 5 in a row. Nobody, including many of us, thought that would be possible."
It seems nothing is out of the question for these Fisheads, a club that always seems to come back from the edge of oblivion and do the unexpected. "I wish we could make it easier on ourselves each year.....but then again its much more interesting this way", said a chuckling Kermit Egan." Read the Wave and follow the Fisheads 4th consecutive play-off run. Dates will be announced in the coming weeks.