Playoff Seeds all Set in North
Despite a final round loss, the Philadelphia Fight (4-2) have earned a first round bye in the postseason, while the White Plains Wombats (4-2) have finished a close third in the standings based on points differential and will play in the first round.
In a crunch game in terms of determining who got the opening round bye and who didn’t, the New York Knights edged the Fight 24-20 Saturday evening at Pier 40 in New York.
For the Knights (3-3), it was a much-needed win and a result that saw them finish the regular season at .500.
“We were far from perfect, but I thought we were on top of Philly in the intensity and desire,” said New York head coach Guillaume Cieutat.
The home team hit a green patch around the midpoint of the game in which Juan Cilano in particular was solid on defense.
The Fight were ahead by two in the closing stages but couldn’t hold off the hard-finishing Knights whose fullback Alex Foster scored the match-winning try.
New York’s other try-scorers included Adams Fitzjames, Michael Grimmett and Willy Dominguez.
“Many mistakes made it hard for us to capitalize, but our ability to build pressure as the game went on helped,” added Cieutat.
For Philadelphia, it was a game they had targeted to win as they were coming off a loss a week earlier to the first-placed Brooklyn Kings.
“It was another rough one,” said Fight player/coach Rich Henson. “It was a game we lost probably in the 76th minute. We just couldn’t hold on.
“Give them credit, it was one of those arm wrestle games and they went for 80 minutes and we went for 76 and they came out on top.”
Philly’s try-scorers included winger Brian Madden (2), along with second-rowers Harry Kaufman and Nick Martino. Henson converted two of the four tries to round out the Fight’s scoring.
“It kind of sucks going into the playoffs with two losses, but the nice thing is we have two weeks to train and we can reset. We’re looking forward to the challenge and we’re excited to have a home playoff game.”
In the other matchup that had playoff implications, the White Plains Wombats scored a big 60-8 win against the Delaware Black Foxes (1-5).
White Plains scored early and kept the pedal to the metal as they went on to post the victory.
The Wombats ran in ten tries all up - their scorers were Thomas Stevenson (2), Jaime Abbas (2), George Reis (2), CJ Cortalano, Brock Duncan, Dylan Booth and Jack Smith.
“As I told the boys at the start of the season, I don’t care how our June plays out, we’re playing for July and August,” said player/coach Cortalano.
“We spent the entire season in June preparing for how we were going to play. It took a little while to click, but the last couple of weeks we’ve been on a roll.”
The other NORTH Conference fixture between the NOVA Eagles (1-1-4) and Boston 13s (1-1-4) resulted in a 30-30 tie.
Brooklyn and Philadelphia have a bye next week, while #3 White Plains will face #6 Delaware and #4 New York will play #5 Boston in the first round of the NORTH playoffs.
By virtue of finishing at the bottom of the standings, NOVA will miss the postseason.
Week 7 scores:
New York Knights 24-20 Philadelphia Fight
White Plains Wombats 60-8 Delaware Black Foxes
Boston 13s 30-30 NOVA