The opening round of the 2015 season started out just the way the Fight wanted it to, with a dominating performance over its northern conference rivals.
It was a hot day in Washington DC with a soft breeze which cooled the air enough to make the conditions perfect for Rugby League. The Slayers wasted no time as they drew first blood in the opening minutes after a couple of by unforced errors by the Fight. This seemed to send a wakeup call through the Fight’s ranks as they forced an error from DC in their own half. Michael Garvey opened up the scoring for the Fight. It would be his first try of three throughout the match. Garvey demonstrated why he has been a main stay with the National Team, making many tackles and spectacular line breaks which often ended up as four points. The try was converted by Mike Timpano, who was perfect throughout the day converting all 7 tries scored by the Fight.
Garvey’s try seemed to settle the team down as they started to convert more of their opportunities. Rhys Bowdich went over shortly after Garvey to pull the Fight ahead. Rhys, who went into 5/8 after skipper Rich Henson had to pull out of the match due to injury, continued the form he had in the 9’s tournament, scoring another try later in the game. Garvey got over the whitewash for his second before the halftime bell rang with the score of 18-4 going into halftime.
The Fight’s combination of set plays and powerhouse performances in both attack and defense in the second half put them well ahead on the scoreboard. Bowdich went over for his second and Garvey went over for this third early in the second half. Hooker Jared Frymoyer and halfback Dan Monteleone threw even more salt in the wounds, scoring one try apiece. Monteleone was in fine form from the word go. His pinpoint accuracy with the prodigious right boot was able to get the Fight out of trouble. With his help, the Fight cruised to an easy 42-4 win.
The conditions of the tight pitch made the play of the match one for the forwards. Big collisions were seen and heard often throughout the match. Fight front-rowers James Coleman, Joe Cesario and Brian Confer led the play from the front with strong defense and powerful hitups allowing the Fight to get on the front foot. Paul Quirk, in his debut with the Fight, also added to the power of the Fight’s pack. The ever elusive Brian Madden put in another tremendous performance, playing much bigger than his diminutive frame would suggest, taking home the Players-Player award. Hooker Jared Frymoyer put in his usual blue collar performance providing quality ball to Rhys and Monteleone. Second rowers, Pat Quirk and Casey Clark, also played outstandingly. The rangy Pat Quirk took multiple hitups and sent his center partner Garvey on many of his line breaks. Casey dominated the right hand fringe. He made multiple tackles in defense and dominated in the ruck area, both in attack and defense. His high work rate earned him Man-of-the-Match.
While the game was mostly a forwards battle, quality play came from fullback Roman Lowery, wingers Thomas Madden and Mike Timpano, and centers Joel Beasley, John Lyons and Michael Garvey. Thomas Madden, who started his first match for the Philadelphia Fight and Roman Lowery, both made up for early errors and turned in fine performances. Rock steady Beasley and Lyons were able to hold down the right hand side. Both were instrumental in securing the right hand side defense after early miscues.
In Round 2 action, the Fight travel to take on the NOVA Eagles.
Try scorers: Garvey (3), Bowdich (2), Frymoyer, Monteleone
Conversions: Timpano (7)
1st half score: 18-4
Final score: 42-2
For photos of the match, go here (photos courtesy of Gene Thorpe Photography, official photographer of the Philadelphia Fight)
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