Axemen Post Big Preseason Win
By Brian Lowe
The Jacksonville Axemen have opened the 2018 USA Rugby League preseason with an encouraging 64-14 win against the White Plains Wombats Saturday night at the University of North Florida.
The game was played over four 20-minute quarters and the home team dominated for most of the match building a 24-4 lead by halftime.
“The players seem to be a lot more composed and more controlled and guys were doing what they were told for the most part,” said Axemen head coach Sean Rutgerson. “I’m pretty happy with how we started.”
Jacksonville’s Australian hooker Lachlan Bristow led all points scorers on the night with a hat-trick of tries.
The Axemen’s other four-pointers were shared between eight players including Matt Thornton, Jaden Laing, Josh Singletary, David Washington, Alex Eberly, William Fletcher, Jon Purnell and Steven Hill.
Bristow also had a stellar evening with the boot going 10/11 on conversions to round out Jacksonville’s scoring, much to the delight of the appreciative hometown fans.
“We had some guys that were running hard,” added Coach Rutgerson.“We took advantage of them not defending around the ruck. They made a few errors that gave us a bit of possession.”
White Plains didn’t travel with their full complement of experienced players, choosing instead to blood some new guys on their roster.
“We brought five to six brand new guys who hadn’t played league before,” said player/coach CJ Cortalano. “They play for a union club that I also coach. They have a lot of promise, but the nuances of the game are new to them of course.”
Despite the scoreline, the Wombats did have some moments of positive momentum of their own to build on for the season ahead, managing to cross the tryline three times themselves.
Fullback Tevita Maitavuki grabbed a brace, while David Griener scored one. Thomas Stevenson converted one of the tries to close out White Plains’ scoring.
“Jacksonville did a real good job at playing quick,” continued Cortalano. “We played about 60-70 minutes of defense and a lot of that had to do with us turning over possession, especially early in the tackle count. The scoreboard didn’t reflect the effort the boys put in though as they tried real hard. We have a couple of imports arriving in the next two weeks, including Mark Offerdahl’s cousin, who will definitely help.”
The Axemen are scheduled to open their 2018 USARL South Conference campaign on the road in Tampa when they face off against the Mayhem on Saturday, June 2.
Photo by Allene Rachal