Jacksonville Axemen Rugby League

Game Report: June 15th Vs Tampa

The Jacksonville Axemen and AxeWomen returned home to the University of North Florida for a double header against the Tampa Mayhem and Mischief. The first home game of the season proved to be an action packed evening of rugby league. Fans were eager to see Jacksonville’s toughest sport back on the field, and the packed stands increased the excitement.

AxeWomen vs Mischief

The game began with Tampa receiving the ball. They made it half way up the field but a kick out of bounds set the AxeWomen up to start their next set of 6 in Mischief territory. Jacksonville came very close to scoring but the ball was turned over on the try line to Tampa. After a solid defensive set, the AxeWomen received the ball back on their own 30 meter line. Big runs from Haley Sheldon, Jordan Day, and Kirby Given marched the team up to the Mischief 20 meter line and passed the ball to Aprylle Davis on the wing. She ran it up the left side for the first try of the day. The conversion was no good for a 4-0 score.

Jacksonville received the ball again, but Tampa was managing to keep the AxeWomen deep in their own territory with the help of several penalties. 15 minutes in to the first half the Mischief pummeled through the middle for their first try of the game, and the conversion was good for them to take a 6-4 lead.

The Tampa Mischief really ran away with the momentum, scoring 3 more tries in the first half. All three conversions were good to give the Mischief a 24-4 lead over the AxeWomen.

Just before the close of the half however, a knock on by Tampa was picked up by Jacksonville’s Taylor White, and the AxeWomen were able to work their way up the field and get a try scored by Haley Sheldon. With the clock ticking down, the AxeWomen managed to work back up the field after a wayward pass from the Mischief. Christine Sargent was able to charge through to touch the ball down and score another 4 points for Jacksonville. Stacey Nemeth’s conversion kick was good to bring the AxeWomen closer but still trailing by 10.

With the score at 24-14 starting the second half, Jacksonville received the kick and were able to score quickly by a try under the uprights by Niya Smith. Nemeth’s conversion was good to close in the score to 24-20. The AxeWomen were much improved in the second half and were able to hold Tampa off from scoring for the first 15 min of the second half, until Tampa’s Keki Jordan had a huge 50 meter run down the middle to score another 4 points for the Mischief. Robyn Oliveri’s conversion was good to make is a 30-20 scoreline.

Just before the final 20 minutes, the AxeWomen came very close to scoring again, but a knock on in the try zone gave the ball back to Tampa. They worked hard and had a couple of big runs to get back into AxeWomen territory but the Jacksonville defense held strong and earned the ball back on their own 10 meter line.

A great kick from Stacey Nemeth and a huge defensive play by Niya Smith caused a Tampa player to be tackled in their own try zone for a goal line drop out. The AxeWomen capitalized off this and managed to score a try from Aprylle Davis in the left corner. The conversion was no good but the AxeWomen closed the gap to 30-24.

Just eight minutes were left in the half, and the AxeWomen battled to get more points on the board, but time ran out and Jacksonville fell short by one try. Final score Tampa 30 and Jacksonville 24.

Coach Sean Rutgerson was happy with the effort the women showed, especially in the second half, but the slow start gave the game away. “We has a poor start to the game and never gave ourselves a chance with too many errors and penalties,” said Rutgerson. “A lot of the women are putting in heaps of effort, the second half was a lot better and we showed some fight and corded the gap. Well done to Tampa to beat us at home and away.”

The AxeWomen have 2 more games scheduled this season, first back at home against the New York State Queens on June 29th, and then they travel up to New York City to take on the Queens for their first home game on July 13th.

Axemen vs Mayhem

The Jacksonville Axemen received the ball first and from the start took control of the game. They worked the ball up the field and a Tampa penalty gave them another set of 6 tackles to try to score. The Axemen were successful with a try in the right corner by Edson Jean-Baptiste. The conversion was no good but Jacksonville was up early 4-0.

Still in the first 15 minutes of the game, Axemen fullback Keith Messer caught the ball on his own 20 meter line and had a great run up the left side of the field. Just before the try line he passed the ball to Vashon Marrs who ran it in to score under the uprights. Mason McCrory’s conversion kick was good to increase the score to 10-0.

Jacksonville continued to keep complete control of the game and worked back up the field. A hole in the Tampa defense on the left side allowed James Williams to score the 3rd try of the game. McCrory’s kick was good to extend the lead 16-0.

Upon receiving the ball, the ball was knocked on by the Axemen which gave Tampa a huge opportunity to score deep in Jacksonville territory. Tampa capitalized off the penalty and score their first try of the game. The conversion was good to get the Mayhem down by 10 with a 16-6 score at the 20 minute water break.

Then as Tampa received the ball again it was knocked out of bounds by a Mayhem player, and the Axemen got the ball back on Tampa’s 20 meter line with a scrum. They quickly were able to score with another try by Vashon Marrs on the left side after a kick from David Washington after the 5th tackle. McCrory’s conversion was no good and the score moved to 20-6.

The Tampa Mayhem were determined to catch up the score before the half and fought their way up the field to score another 6 points. The Axemen held them from scoring again and went into the half time with a 20-12 lead.

Tampa received the ball after the half but once Jacksonville got the ball back they pushed up that left side again for a try scored by Justin Williams. McCrory’s kick was no good and the score was set at 24-12.

Both teams came in fresh after the half time break and it was a brutal back and forth between each side. Both teams became close to scoring but the defense held strong. Then after about 15 minutes in the second half the Axemen fumbled a catch from a Mayhem kick backwards, and Lee Setzer picked it up and had a huge 40 meter run to score. Mason McCrory was good for the conversion and the Axemen extended their lead to 30-12.

After the 20 minute water break the Tampa Mayhem came close to scoring twice, but penalties prevented them from breaking through. Then Lee Setzer, who had several great runs in the second half ran the ball in for his second try and 4 more points for the Axemen. McCrory’s conversion was no good and the score remained 34-12.

The clock was running down but the Mayhem were determined to catch up the score. A dropped ball by the Axemen gave them that opportunity. A quick tap and go off the ball caught Jacksonville off guard and Tampa scored up the middle. The conversion was good and the score moved to 34-18.

Five minutes were left in the game, and although the Mayhem were down by 16, they had some big runs by their forwards to work towards the try zone. A miscarried offload gave the ball back to the Axemen and they got down into Mayhem territory for the remaining time left. Khalial Harris hammered his way through three defenders to score the final try of the game just to the right of the uprights. Mason McCrory made the conversion kick as the time ran out, and the final score was 40-18.

With the Axemen now at 3-0, they are starting to fine tune their game and Coach Rutgerson was happy with the team’s progress. “The men had a great start to the game,” said Rutgerson. “There was a lot of great effort. We still had a few silly mistakes and errors we will need to sort out, but I’m really happy with the result.”

The Jacksonville Axemen are back at UNF next Saturday, June 22nd when they take on the other undefeated team left in the conference, the South Florida Copperheads. Kick off is 7pm.