Fisheads Defeat Morris To Nab Top Spot In Rugby Standings
Last Saturday, the Rockaway Fisheads traveled to Morris, New Jersey to take on the tough and determined Morris Lions Rugby Club.
For the taking was sole possession of first place in the standings and the chance to set themselves up for the opportunity to take first place in the standings.
It was mission accomplished on both ends as Rockaway outlasted the "never say die" Lions in a tough and exciting match-up.
Rockaway came away 41-31 winners but it was not easy.
"I give those guys a lot of credit" said veteran second row Phil Tufano. "It was like one of those horror movies where the bad guy keeps getting up and wont die. I was beginning to wonder if we had to use a stake through the heart to put the game away."
The game was almost a mirror image of last year's game with the Lions, one in which Rockaway ran up a huge lead and Morris began to slowly whittle away a seemingly insurmountable Rockaway advantage. Chris the Welshman got Rockaway on the board early with a 40 meter dash to paydirt and a 5-0 Rockaway lead.
Grouch McCann was next as he followed the backs and was rewarded with a perfect pass that he took in for a score. The Grouch has been having one of his finest seasons despite his always surly on the field demeanor. With Rockaway up 12-0, Jaime Prosser got into the act and scored a beautiful smashmouth try from 20 meters out. Prosser sped through the first line of defense and then smashed over the second as he touched it down dead center for the score.
Chris added the conversion and Rockaway went up 17-0. The Lions were beginning to get their bearings but couldn't find the try zone until the first half had nearly expired. They finally broke through and got on the board with 2 minutes to go in the first stanza.
Rockaway went into halftime up, 22- 5, but still very wary of the home team.
Coach Bob Johnson reminded his club of the previous visit to Morris when the Lions nearly came back and caught the Fisheads.
"I warned my guys to keep playing hard and they did. It was a simple matter of Morris beginning to execute and narrow the gap as the game wore on. They played well."
Rockaway scored a quick try to open the second half and built a seemingly safe 29-5 lead. It was at that point that Morris got going. The home team scored 2 quick tries to narrow the gap to 29-15. With Morris down just 2 scores, Rockaway kicked a penalty goal to make it a 32-15 tally and hoped Morris would finally go away.
The Lions did nothing of the sort. Rockaway notched 2 more penalty goals and took a 23 point lead but the Lions refused to be discouraged. Morris pushed in for a try and made the conversion, narrowing the gap to 38-24.
Down just 2 scores the locals put the pressure on Rockaway but the Fisheads defenders were able to repel Morris' offensive surges late in the match. Rockaway put up another kick for goal and Morris countered with a try narrowing the gap to 10 at 41-31.
That's how it would end as Rockaway emerged victoriously.
That was an alley fight, pure and simple" said Fisheads Captain Brian Ward. Neither side let up and we both fought to the final whistle. Good clean play and my hat is off to them. They gave us a battle."
With Morris behind them the 4-0-1 Fisheads return home this Saturday to face the 1-4 Princeton Rugby Club at Fort Tilden. A victory will make the Fisheads division champs but the locals are taking nothing for granted.
Said Fisheads vet Kermit Egan of this week's opponent: "Princeton's record is deceiving. They have been in every match they played and are a highly competitive and well drilled team. It's the type of opponent you really don't want in a game of this magnitude."
"They are motivated every week and would love to be spoilers. We can't let it happen as we do have a strong tendency to let down against clubs that are weaker than us on paper."
Egan also added, "Anything can happen on any given Saturday and we are preparing for them as we would any other opponent. They are a tough club....they wont just hand us the division. We will have to go out and win it with a championship performance and I think we will do that."
Kick-off time is at 1:00 p.m. so be there as your hometown Rockaway Fisheads try to lock up the Division 2 Rugby Championship this Saturday at Fort Tilden. Your support would be GREATLY appreciated.