2015 was a great year for the Boston 13s, having been narrowly beaten in the Championship final in 2012, the 13s waited three years to get back into that ever elusive final and this time they went home with the win.
By Danny Roberts | @DannyRoberts74
The start of the 2016 season didn’t go according to plan though and the 13s lost in back to back games in Round 2, 3 and 6. It’s the Round 6 result that is the most potent here as it was a loss against long-time rivals and tonight’s Championship opponents, Philadelphia Fight.
The Fight head into this game unbeaten and looking for revenge after losing out the eventual Championship winners, Boston 13s at this stage of the competition last year.
Boston 13s stalwart, Dustin Cooper states that the plan all along has been to win it all again this year and believes that despite early losses the side has a great chance to do so:
“Going back to back has been the goal from the onset. We have a talented squad, so if we play to our potential it will take care of itself.”
The Philadelphia Fight have enjoyed a great amount of success in the USARL winning the National Championship in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and for years fans have spoken of the dynasty that they have created. Cooper believes that he has seen the formula to this success and believes that the 13s can definitely emulate both the Fight and the Jacksonville Axemen in creating their own dynasty.
“What Philadelphia were able to do, and Jacksonville before them, is keep a large core group of players together for a long time. That’s the key. Playing with, and for, the same players year after year builds cohesion on the field, and a great club culture off it.
We had an opportunity to do something really special for a period of time on the back of the 2012 season, but missed it due to some unforeseen circumstances out of our control.
As for creating our own dynasty; if the boys turn up and play to their ability every single game, then there’s no reason why we can’t be as successful as Philly and Jax.”
Cooper talks of the winning culture that the city of Boston employs and although he feels the pressure for the side to deliver he believes that the 13s are becoming more and more recognised thanks to their efforts both on and off the field.
“Boston is the city of champions, and we’re slowly, but surely, creating our own footprint in the sporting community. More and more people are starting to recognize our name and logo around town, which is huge in a sports crazed city like this one. Success breeds success, so if we continue to perform on the field, then we’ll continue to see growth and support off it.”
The 13s definitely learned from their early losses and turned things around completely, winning their last league game in extremely convincing fashion and battling past their play-off opponents the Kings and Knights. No game is ever easy in the USARL and although the Fight are 1-0 against the 13s this year (Fight won 22-16 in Round 6) the Boston side are not intimidated and are ready for a close encounter.
It isn’t just the Fight game that Cooper has talked to the 13s about, with the growth of the game and the USARL Hawks the ex-NRL player has been talking to his teammates about national squad selection too.
“I’ve spoken to the group about Hawks selection. The eligible boys just need to let their performances do the talking. We have had a couple of boys selected in the last 12 months but Tyler Ierardi, Craig MacKenzie and Shane Morales are 3 boys that selectors should take a close look at.”
As the battle approaches rest assured that both sides will be raring to go and ready to fight. The Philadelphia side have the chance to write last season off as a fluke and go back to showing their dominance in the league. The 13s on the other hand will have one focus in mind, continuing their momentum and progressing to try and win back to back titles.
This is the chance for Boston to cement themselves as the new Northern powerhouse and it’s a chance they plan on taking.
“Nobody likes losing and we’re no different. We want to win it all.”
The NORTH Conference Final kicks off 6pm Saturday Aug 20th – A. A. Garthwaite Stadium (11th Ave) Conshohocken, PA. Admission is $5. BBQ / BEER & Fight Merchandise available.