Axemen 14
Fight 14
Slayers 12
Warriors 10
Rebellion 6
Thirteens 4
Titans 2
Oneida 2

Philly Fight Too Good For Warriors

With hurricane Irene fast approaching, the Philly Fight Rugby League team also got off to a flying start in the 2011 USA Rugby League Grand Final. From the opening kick off the Fight set about their work with precision scoring 2 quick tries to go out to a 12 point lead in as many minutes. On the other side of the ledger the large New Haven Warriors forward pack appeared to have their minds elsewhere as they struggled to overcome the solid defense of the Fight.

The Warriors failed to play to the conditions and this would prove costly as the weight of possession was given to the Philly side. Their completion rate was at times woeful and this was not helped by some interesting decisions by referee Alan Chiminski who sin binned Warrior player Ben Kelly for back chat just before half time.
The Fight had a glut of possession in the first half and made the New Haven team fight for every piece of ground gained and their efforts were finally rewarded with a try to Aussie import lock Andrew Maroney close to the posts that went unconverted. Halftime score 18-4 to the Fight.

Halftime in the sheds Player Coach Sheehan didn’t mince his words as he spoke to his charges, sighting the need to hold on to the ball and to cut back on the mistakes. In the opposition sheds Coach Peter Illfield was happy with how the game was playing out.

This seemed to have an effect on the players as the Warriors finally awoke from their slumber during the third quarter with some big hits and strong running from Siose Muliumu and 21 yr old Wesley Haughton. However once again Chiminski appeared to want to dominate the game with incessant whistle blowing and long stoppages as he continually called for both Captains.

Frustration was setting in and at one stage Chiminski appeared to lose control as an all in brawl similar to the recent Manly v Storm NRL match, exploded on the sidelines. Ground officials manage to keep the benches from emptying and joining in and the resulting penalty went the way of the Fight.

This seemed to galvanize the Warriors players and they hit back with 3 quick tries with the best coming from a set piece when rookie sensation Wesley Haughton managed to step past two Fight would-be tacklers and launched a third with a fend off before scoring beside the posts. Other try scorers were Karl Buck, Siose Muliumu and Damien O’Malveney.

Philly Fight appeared all but gone as they set for the kick off but a mistake from Warriors fullback Keith Nelson as he dropped the ball saw the Fight spread it quickly from the scrum to winger Patrick Quirk who dived for the corner but appeared to knock the ball on. In what can only be called a bizarre decision the officials stated that the ball was dropped backwards before going forwards and allowed the try. The scores were tied 26-26 and only minutes remaining, the stage was set for a thriller. Once again the Warriors were guilty of failing to control the ball and mistakes were to prove costly as the Fight played out their set with efficiency and Chiminski had the final say awarding the Fight a penalty in front of the Warriors posts and the resulting success saw the Fight ahead on the board 28-26.

Despite the somewhat strange and often bizarre officiating, it was a thrilling match. The Philly Fight stuck to their game plan, completed their sets well and controlled possession. Coach Peter Illfield was delighted with his team and rightly so as the Fight have earned the title of USA Rugby League Champions. As hurricane Irene began to advance the small but vocal crowd went away happy having been well entertained by both teams.

Final score: Philadelphia Fight 28: New Haven Warriors 26