Game Report: Round 3
The Dr. Clayman Plastic Surgery Center Jacksonville Axemen came out victorious in a tough game against the Atlanta Rhinos in Round 3 of the USARL Competition. The game began with high intensity, and the Axemen came very close to the try line during several sets. The Rhinos answered back with a breakaway run which was stopped by solid defense from Joey Bobbin in the back. The Axemen maintained their strength and finally broke through with the first try of the game midway through the first quarter. Next was Tim “Chachi” Herff with an impressive breakaway offload to Mat Keeley for another Axemen score. With two good conversion kicks from Mat Keeley the 1st quarter ended 12-0 for the Axemen. The 2nd quarter saw the Rhinos first try scored on their home field, but the conversion was no good and the Axemen followed up with another try of their own. Mat Keeley’s close conversion kick was originally called no good, but was overruled by the head referee making the score 18-4 going into the half.
The Axemen were well aware of the Rhinos capabilities to even up the score after their first game against the Warriors, so Jacksonville remained committed to close the gate on Atlanta with another try early in the 2nd half leading the Rhinos 22-4. A scuffle during a tackle led the head referee to send Axemen coach Mat Keeley out of the game for 10 minutes with a yellow card, but Captain Richie Alleger remained in control and the Axemen scored a try with a man down late in the 3rd quarter. A good conversion kick by Alleger made the score 30-4 going into the 4th quarter. The Rhinos remained very physical all the way into the 4th quarter and scored their second try with a good conversion kick to make the score 30-10. The Axemen preserved an active offense with the final try of the game making the final score 34-10.
“I was really pleased with the boy’s performance,” said Coach Mat Keeley. “The great thing was we played like a team, every man did his job and we showed true character and determination to win. Our forwards laid the platform from the opening whistle and I felt the strength of our bench was the difference between the two teams. The area I was most impressed with was the way the boys worked for each other, whether that be in quick play of the ball, 3rd man in a tackle or running options for our outside backs. They all did it with intent and congratulated one another when it came off.”
Although the Axemen played well as a whole, three players earned the top player points for the Round 3. With 1 point is Aussie Import player in his first season, fullback Joey Bobbin. “Joey started to come into his own on the weekend. He had a great game, is improving every week and it was like having an extra forward out there at times. His talk was great, he made a number of try saving tackles and was instrumental in the attack. It was a physical game and every time he saw our forwards were tired he came in and gave the boys a break. It is a real advantage to have a fullback of his size and athleticism.”
With 2 points is new player Joe Eichner, who transferred to playing rugby league for the summer after playing for the UNF Deadbirds. “In his very first game of rugby league Joey Eichner bagged 2 tries and was brutal in defense. He is a fantastic athlete, plays the game tough and is not afraid to put his body on the line. The Rhino’s threw a lot at our right side and he came up with a number of try saving tackles. We still need to do a bit of work on our attack but I couldn’t have asked for more given it was his first game in an Axemen jersey.”
Given 3 points and MVP of the game is returning Axemen player from the 2011 season, Tim “Chachi” Herff. “We injected Chachi into the game around the 15 minute mark it proved to be a good move. We spoke a lot about our bench players lifting us when they come on and he certainly did that in both attack and defense. Chachi is not the biggest player but he is aggressive and does everything at speed. He is renowned for being a workhorse but what impressed me was his ability to pick out lazy defenders. Given his progression since training camp I think his best rugby is to come and it’s just another example of the talent pool the Axemen continue to draw from UNF.”
The Dr. Clayman Plastic Surgery Center Jacksonville Axemen will take on the Orlando Orthopedic Central Florida Warriors in Round 4 this Saturday June 21st. Game time is 5pm at Hodges Stadium.