Fight Go Undefeated in an unexpected battle in Northern Virginia
The match started off a physical encounter, as typical contests between NOVA and Philly do. The big men of both teams were able to make their presence known. Early on, within the first 10 minutes of the match, strong tackles were being made in the middle of field. The Fight were able to get a few repeat sets on their opponents try line; however, they were not able to convert them into points. Errors at crucial times were the culprits.
This allowed NOVA some breathing room and they took hold of the match for the remainder of the first half. NOVA’s big men were able to apply pressure in the middle of the field, forcing Fight errors and winning penalties for their respective sides.
There were not a lot of scoring opportunities on the narrow pitch within the first half. Both teams held their opponents to minimal scoring opportunities. At the 38th minute, however, NOVA was penalized just to the right of their uprights and the Fight elected to take the 2 points on offer. But in an uncharacteristic showing, halfback Joel Weeks missed the gift 2 points.
At halftime, the score line read 0 – 0.
The second half was the polar opposite of the first half. Scoring started early in the second half after a knock on from the Fight forced too much pressure. NOVA were able to create and score on an overlap in the left hand side of the field. The try was unsuccessful and the score line read 4-0 to NOVA in the 46th minute.
This seemed to wake up the Fight, as the next passage of play was dominated by the Fight. They applied the pressure to NOVA through quick play the balls and quick line speed. The Fight were able to get a penalty within 15 meters of the try line. Fight second rower Fraser Stirling was able to smash his way over, under the sticks, off the second play of the set following the penalty. It was the first of season for Stirling and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The try was converted by Weeks, and the Fight lead 6-4 in the 50th minute.
The Fight refused to take their foot off the gas. Big minutes were put in by the Fight’s big men during the next ten minutes of play. Front row replacements, Darius Hurst-Rodney and Paul Quirk came into the match and brought a much needed spark to the Fight’s attack. Hurst-Rodney was strong in defense and stronger in attack. In the 63rd minute, Quirk was able to score another try for the Fight. Quirk was able to score on the Fight side fringe, going over the top of the defender in a true front rower’s try. Weeks missed the conversion, but the Fight led 10-4.
The final 15 minutes was a tester of both physical and mental stamina. Both teams were feeling the effects of the hot and muggy afternoon. At the 72 minute mark, NOVA were able to break free from the arm wrestle and broke down the left side Fight defense and score a long range try right under the sticks. The try was converted and the match was level at 10 with 5 minutes left.
Late game heroics were in store for the Fight. After defending a set on their try line, the Fight struggled to get out of their own half until Five Eight Rich Henson split NOVA’s defense and went for a 60 meter dash. Henson was dragged down 5 meters short of the try line, but on the next play, Weeks was able to step two defenders and score a try right under the sticks. In the 78th minute the Fight led 16-10. Two plays after the kickoff, the final whistle blew. At fulltime, the Fight won 16-10.
Tries: Stirling, Quirk, Weeks
Goals: Weeks (2 from 4)
Halftime Score: 0 – 0
Fulltime Score: 16 – 10
Man of the Match: Nick Martino
Players Player: Darius Hurst-Rodney
For photos of the match click HERE (photos courtesy of Gene Thorpe Photography, official photographer of the Philadelphia Fight).
Philadelphia Fight Rugby League Club © Copyright 2015.