The outcome of Saturday’s game will decide if another powerhouse in USA Rugby League has emerged or that the Fight are still the form team from last year’s Championship.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup and one can’t help but look back to what got both teams to their respective position on the ladder. Over the next few days we will be featuring both teams and the path that led to this exciting matchup.
While the Fight appear to be sitting pretty in second place, their quest for back-to-back Championship has been anything but smooth sailing. It first started when their home ground and fortress in Conshohocken was unavailable for the entire 2012 season as a new field and stands were well underway. While the bouncing around has been disruptive for both players and fans, another hit came in the form of 2011 MVP Kevin Wiggins announcing he was jumping ship to the AMNRL where the promise of World Cup Glory was too much to refuse.
The impact appeared minor as the remaining core squad from 2011 combined with a new trio of imports had the Fight on track and looking like world beaters for the first half of the season. Round 5 against the Axemen promised to be the game of the season but the Fight were dropped a bombshell 48hrs before the game when captain and import Johnny Webber announced he was immediately returning back to Australia for personal reasons. The ripple effect was severe and the Fight looked rudderless against a determined Axemen outfit. Days later Prop Kane Fuller also returned home and the Fight now lacking starch and a key pivot, threw an S.O.S to 2011 halfback Joel Weeks who was on the plane quicker than Flash Gordon.
With Weeks back in the saddle, the Fight are now in the business end of the season and looking to discover their early season form at a crucial time in the year.
Matching up against Boston, The Fight will have a full strength team as Hooker, Dave Wilmore & Centre Mike Kelly return after missing in their previous encounter against Boston.
While the year has been a challenge, some notable highlights are in the form of Joe Cesario (2nd Row) whose first season now sees him as a regular starter in the last 3 games. On the wing, Matt Scherr now in his 2nd season, this regular starter for second half of the season offers no-nonsense defense and is an unexpected finisher out wide. His teammate on the other side of the field in Thomas Madden who was just inches from picking up 3 tries in 3 games against the 13s last week.
Dave Wilmore (Hooker) & proud US Marine, endures in defense and taking the ball up to the opposition with aggression. Pat Quirk, local Philadelphian identity, who performed well in the past at fullback, now excels at lock with penetrating runs, deft support play and courageous defense. Speed man Jared Frymoyer, (former Tomahawk & winger) is a huge personality in a team that for the most part, has been together for the past 5-6 year.
While the Fight are using ‘adversity’ to offset some of the difficulties over the past season. Saturday’s game will tell if the boys from Philadelphia have found a way to discover their spark in a year that promised so much.
(2) Philadelphia Fight vs (3) Boston 13s
(3pm, August 11 – Alapocas Run State Park, Field 2,, 4351 Weldin Road, Wilmington, DE)