American football: Monarchs' season fizzles out

London Monarchs 7 Rhein Fire 10

The World League regular season came to a disappointing conclusion for London Monarchs yesterday afternoon.

Their offense lacked the consistency necessary to upset the team which finished with the league's best overall record. After losing their first game of the season, the Dusseldorf-based franchise have won seven of their last nine games and are favoured to beat Barcelona Dragons in the World Bowl next week.

However, the Monarchs' defense made life awkward for them and their quarterback, TJ Rubley, completed just three of 12 passes. "It was an ugly game, but you have to give credit to their defense," he said. "We had a lot of distractions this week, but today showed us we have to take care of business next weekend."

Rubley gave up an early interception to London's Mario Bradley, and his replacement Josh LaRocca was picked off by Reggie Holt and Claudius Wright. However, the Fire defense was also in dominant mood, intercepting the London quarterback, Charles Puleri, on three occasions.

The only surprise was that the Monarchs failed to add to their season's tally of sacks. Having made 38 in the first nine games, London's defensive front was unable to bring down either Rubley or LaRocca.

Fire opened the scoring in the second quarter when their Norwegian kicker Atle Larsen made a 45-yard field goal after Puleri had been intercepted by John Anderson. The Monarchs hit back when Puleri fired a 38-yard touchdown to the tight end Mike Titley. However, the Fire scored the game-winner in the third quarter, Derrick Clark's two-yard run giving him his ninth touchdown of the season.

So, for the third year in a row, the Monarchs finished with four wins from 10 games. In five World League seasons they have had three homes and four head coaches, although the team's general manager, Alton Byrd, confirmed that Lionel Taylor will return next year.

There will be plenty of other adjustments during the off-season, as the Monarchs continue their search for a successful formula. Yesterday's game encapsulated their season: close, but never quite good enough.