Our last outing saw WPRFC record an emphatic 5 try, 42-20 victory over NYRFC at Randall’s Island, leaving the squad in a buoyant mood heading into what was supposed to be a bi-week and then a home rematch against league pace setters
New Haven RFC.
Despite not having a fixture, the lads worked hard during a huge training session on Saturday along side the Keio Academy boys in Suny Purchase. This excellent turn out and commitment for the bi-week session speaks to the impressive dedication of the guys this season. The hard work continued through the following week as tension built in the lead up to our game with New Haven. Unfortunately, our efforts to schedule the game around the RWC final with an early start did not appeal to New Haven and the big game had to be postponed until the spring.
Back to back bi-weeks was not an ideal situation and threatened to derail our momentum. However, another early Saturday session at Keio proved successful and the squad met up with the old boys after their game against the Greys to watch the final as a club.
The build up to our game with Long Island went well as the guys arrived fully prepared, having utilized their two weeks off.
The 19-61 (10 try) victory was an outstanding result, (even though a combination of complacency and a lack of match sharpness produced our worst first half performance of the year.) Long Island jumped out to an early 2 try lead with White Plains seemingly reluctant to get stuck in and execute the basics. Long Island took full advantage of some shocking defense out wide to cross twice in a poor 20 minute spell. As the half played out the boys started to move through the gears and a couple of scores settled the nerves before our season long dedication to fitness really began to show. After some harsh words during the break, the second half was a very different game. The scrum dominated, we made our tackles, cleared our rucks and everything fell into place. It really is a simple game.
Next up was a home game against the Lions who we had tied with (at 38 each) earlier in the season in a bizarre encounter at Randall’s Island. This game was also a big day for the club as we continued to develop our relationship with the Keio Academy securing permission to use their wonderful facility. No small thing with club quality game and training venues being in such demand in our area.
The game was certainly one to forget for the team with unforced errors and mental lapses littering the performance. This was not about lack of effort, if anything the boys were trying too hard, forced the game and came up with more errors than we have seen all year, losing the ball while trying to center a try being a prime example. The refusal of the official to reward our powerful scrum and excellent work at the break down was also frustrating and even though we generated enough line breaks to set us up for a win, time after time we came up with a knock on at the critical moment. Sometimes it’s just not your day, but the boys stuck to the task and the game finished 26-19 including a late try to snatch an all important bonus point.
The final game of the season saw WPRFC hosting Old Blue RFC at Tibbet’s with our guests fielding a greatly changed team to the one that was put to the sword 56-9 in round five.
This was a full blooded affair with both teams upping the levels of physicality from previous rounds with WPRFC having the upper hand in the scrum and Old Blue shading the line out contest. The boys scored some great tries and put in some impressive defensive stands while the reliable boot of Poukie Mannering kept the score board ticking over.
WPRFC looked to be heading to victory when the team was disrupted by losing Mike Sexauer and Andrew Ianna in the back row to injury within minutes of each other.
The boys battled on through the final quarter but the game finished 26-26 and an opportunity of a clean sweep of our long time rivals was lost. Despite not picking up all the points this was a quality display against a good team and the lads dug in deep to deal with adversity in the second half.
So the fall portion of the league season has come to an end and the club is sitting second in the league having played 9, won 5, drawn 2 and lost 2 with the games against New Haven, Landsdowne and NYRFC to finish the league before going into the play offs in 2016.
This was always going to be a difficult season for the club with so many players from last years A side unavailable or moving on this season for a variety of reasons. The team also had to endure injuries and players being called up for international honors (which the club should be very proud of.) We therefore have yet to field our strongest side which while frustrating is also exciting for the future.
The response from the players has been superb and a great example of this is this years Captain, Don Anderson who has lead from the front the whole year and never taken a backward step.
Getting back to basics this year with a heavy emphasis on fitness has paid dividends, even in the games were we came up a little short, we finished as the stronger side to reduce the points gap while our victories included some overwhelming second half performances.
Unfortunately we did not have the numbers to field a b side this year, (something to address in 2016.) This has meant rotating the squad, playing players out of position and emptying the bench in nearly every game. The guys have been very understanding of this and still trained consistently despite not being guaranteed game time which they should be applauded for.