This months theme has been very much American centric at RLIS. Both the AMNRL and USARL are getting down to the nitty, gritty of their season with play offs and Championship finals approaching. Both the Axemen and Fight have shown that they are the dominant teams in the USARL while the AMNRL the Knight and Wildcats are also showing they are the top dogs. With the cold relations starting to thaw a bit, may we see a “Super Bowl” type game this year or next?
The Philadelphia Fight had one more reason to try and win on the weekend, their Coach Peter Illfield was celebrating his Birthday! Before and after the game there were many posters that players and fans were asked to sign for Peter and were presented to him at the Post game dinner and function.
The Washington D.C. Slayers have been one of the consistent top 4 teams all season and with their narrow loss in round 1 to the fight had the potential goods to really make life difficult for the Fight. The first half certainly showed that with only a converted try separating the two teams, Fight going into the half time break 12 to 6.
The Fight opened the scoring in the 10th minute through Joel Weeks, however they were made to work hard for it with the Slayers defence right up in their face. On the attacking side of things the Slayers were also right up there. The Slayers around the 20th minute had four sets of six within the 10 meters, even going over and being held up once. It took some brilliant foresight by the Fight’s Lock, Kevin Wiggins to intercept the ball and run 30 meters to diffuse the situation for them. But despite that 5 minutes later the Slayers did cross over with winger Andrew Moore and the conversion by Phil Hill.
From there it was a war of attrition between the two and around the 35th minute Philadelphia, through a great cut out play to the right wing had their number two, Jared Frymoyer score in the corner. A tough kick for Joel Weeks, but he made it look easy putting it right over the centre. The Fight went into the break with a 6 point advantage.
The second stanza opened up quickly with Joel Weeks scoring and this set the tone for the rest of the match. What ever the pep talk from Peter Illfield was, id did the trick. Two more tries within that opening 10 minutes to Wiggins and Mike Timpano saw the Fight race to a 30 – 6. The Slayers then hardened up in defence holding out for over 15 minutes and pushing the Fight line on several occasions. But the Fight defence was able to hold out.
Frustration started to set into the Slayers and a few niggling scuffles did break out. Referee Bruce Wedderburn stepped in and laid down the law very quickly and the players got back to playing some footy. Another four tries sealed a big won for the Fight over the Slayers and put them in great stead for the Championship game in two weeks.
In the other USARL semi-final the Rhode Island Rebellion travelled to Jacksonville, FL to take on the Axemen. This is the first year the Rebellion have made the play offs with quite an impressive season. The Rebellions season has had many highlights, especially with Isaac Doe who is the first player to have come through the Rebellions youth program. This kind of thing bodes well for the Rebellion. Though they lost to the Axemen, 44 – 12, this kind of development means that they will be a force to be reckoned with in coming years.
The Axemen showed just why they are equal favourites with the Fight for the championship this year. They are the defending champions, and with only one loss to the Fight in Conshohocken in round 2 of the regular season they have been ruthless everywhere else. They were able to inflict the only loss to the Fight in round 5 and the USARL championship looks set to be a cracker. This is the fourth year out of the last 5 that the Axemen have made the championship final, not only in the USARL but also the AMNRL before the split had happened.
In the AMNRL it was semi-final weekend as well. The New York Knights unfortunately had their opponents, the NOVA Eagles, pull out so they progress through to the Championship final. However they did have a game against the Northern Raiders who stepped up to give the players a much needed run. In Connecticut, the Wildcats followed the theme of the weekend with a big win as well over the Southampton Dragons, who in their first year did well to make the play-offs.
The AMNRL championship final will be held at Greenwich High Stadium, CT next weekend and a good crowd is expected. It see last years finalists at it again and the Wildcats are looking to get some revenge over the Knights who have been the dominant side in the AMNRL over the last few years.
The next game in the Colonial Cup sees the USA take on Canada after the USARL Championship game. The Canadians lead the 3 match series 1-0 after beating the USA in Toronto earlier in the year. The Canadians will also be taking on the Norwegians on the 7th September.
As was written up in a press release last Friday (9 August, 2013), the Russian Bears are the 2012/13 European Shield Champions and will go onto now to the European Cup next year. They got though in an inglorious way with Germany forfeiting the match. However a bit of controversy in that it was claimed that rather than players failing to apply for VISAs, its claimed on Facebook the letters needed for the application were sent out late and players had no time to collect them, something the RLD should have made sure of. There will be a review of the Rugby League Deutschland operations and hopefully a mess like this will not happen again.
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