Black Foxes fend off the Fight at home

The Delaware Black Foxes hosted the Philadelphia Fight in the final game of the 2021 USARL LLC North Conference regular season on Saturday.
Black Foxes fend off the Fight at home

The Black Foxes opened the scoring only minutes into the game with a diving try by Andrew Simpson. A rookie this year, Andrew Simpson has made a mark in the Black Foxes -- and demonstrated his skills soon again short of the 10 minute mark with a line break and run halfway across the field for a second try, making the score 10-0 Delaware. Follow on tries from Christian Gwynn at 14 minutes made it 16-0 and then Nathan Campbell at 25 minutes made it 22-0.

The Fight got onto the board 30 minutes in, making a try out of a last tackle kick high into the corner. The corner spot was too hard to convert so this brought the score to 22-4. At 45 minutes the Black Foxes scored in the corner themselves. The conversion attempt bounced off the crossbar, leaving the score at 26-4.

Just one minute later, however, Philadelphia made a successful interception and carried it to within 10 meters of the try line, setting themselves up for a series of attacks on the Black Foxes’ goal. Once again it was a kick on the last, this time a low grubber, that they were able to touch down for a try. Successful conversion by Andrew Kneisly brought the score to 26-10.

Sadly for the Fight, these were to be their last points. A solid Philadelphia drive at 50’ ended with a loose ball being reclaimed by Delaware, and Simpson made another outstanding run to carry it deep into the Fight’s territory. Making a desperate tackle to stop him, Philadelphia gave away a penalty, which Delaware soon turned into a try in the corner. No conversion left the score 30-10.

As the game clock ticked past 1 hour, it seemed as though the Fight were suffering from fatigue a bit more than the Black Foxes. At 65 minutes Delaware’s Nathan Campbell twisted out of tackles and crashed over the try line making it 36-10, and two minutes later Delaware dove into the left corner bringing it to 40-10. Three minutes after that, around the 70 minute mark, they used the right corner instead; 44-10.

With 75 minutes of the game elapsed, Philadelphia had few chances left. They made a desperate drive, with their #1 Mark DiLiberto dancing along the line but not quite being allowed to touch down over it. Awarded a penalty for an illegal strip, the Fight tried again, but were bundled into touch. At 79 minutes they got yet another penalty, but a dangerously wide pass toward the corner resulted in going into touch instead of over the goal line.

Finally in gear and making moves without giving out penalties, Delaware made a clean passing drive up the field and got it down within the closing seconds to make the final score Delaware 50 - Philadelphia 10.

After the game, Philadelphia higlighted the Delaware line breaks and their own failure to convert attempts into tries, saying "Lack of consistent tackling and converting on our goal line opportunities is what made the difference." For Man of the Match the Fight selected Mark “Berto” DiLiberto, who joined last season in 2019 after years of experience playing Rugby Union and Rugby 7’s. Player's Player was Mike Gentile.

For their Man of the Match Delaware chose Zephir "Zee" Lambert, saying the prop "has been a force in the forwards this season. He has consistently set the tone in the middle of the field as a defender this summer. Offensively, when he's not scoring tries himself, his rugby 7s background and dominant running allowed him to break the gain line numerous times a match and set up multiple tries for his teammates." For Player's Player Corey Lee was named for his big hits and consistently solid defense.

The Black Foxes' Ian Ferguson said, "It was a hard fought match. I was happy with the result this weekend but we know that there is still much that needs to be improved if we hope to emerge winners of the Grand Final this season."

Match replay:​