Axemen Score Biggest Win in Team History
By Brian Lowe
Photos by Allene Rachal
The 121 Financial Credit Union Axemen delighted a large and appreciative home crowd by posting the biggest win in the team’s history Saturday night in their homecoming of the USA Rugby League 2019 season.
Jacksonville ran in a record 20 tries en route to a 106-4 victory over the South Conference’s new team Lakeland Renegades.
There were multiple try scorers on the night including Steven Knight (5), James Williams (3), Jye Montgomery (2), David Thomas (2), David Washington (2) and Alex Eberle (2).
“For us to win by that amount, not only to win but the way we did it, I was really happy with how we were playing as a team,” said Axemen head coach Sean Rutgerson.
Rutgerson said Australian imports Montgomery, Nathan Richter and Jacob Hawkins all played their part in organizing the team, but among the other players who really stood out were homegrown talents Malcom ‘Khaliq’ Webb and Williams.
The Axemen got the party started early when backrower Jye Montgomery scored the first try within minutes of the opening kickoff. Hooker and goalkicker Richter missed on the conversion attempt but made up for it not long after by converting his own score to put Jacksonville out in front by 10-0.
Fullback David Thomas was next to cross the tryline, before left winger Steven Knight scored back-to-back tries, both converted by Richter, to extend the lead to 26-0 midway through the first half.
The Axemen continued to dominate for the remainder of the half with Webb, Williams, Thomas and center Alex Eberle scoring tries. Richter added the extras on two of them to make the halftime score 46-0 in favor of the home team.
It didn’t take long for Jacksonville to add to the tally from the restart with Knight getting his hat-trick, followed by two more tries to right wing David Washington and Williams. Halfback Hawkins slotted conversions on the latter two scores to push the lead out to 62-0.
At that point, the Renegades finally broke their duck when veteran David Ulch scored their lone try. Ulch, who is also Lakeland’s assistant coach, was filling in in the halves on the night as he normally plays in the pack.
After that, the Axemen ran in eight more tries by backrower James Campbell, Eberle, Knight (2), Washington, Montgomery, Williams and center Josh Jackson. Five-eighth Charlie Jones and Richter converted six of those scores.
Richter was the game-high points-scorer with 28 via his 12 conversions and one try.
“We managed to stick to our game plan, which is what we didn’t do in our first two games,” added coach Rutgerson. “All the boys obviously enjoyed having a big win and they enjoyed the game because everything basically went our way.”
For their part, as a new team it’s not a surprise that the Renegades don’t have a lot of experience on their roster, although they had beaten the Atlanta Rhinos a week earlier.
“We knew that playing against Jacksonville was going to be tough as they’d won their first two games by a pretty good amount,” said Lakeland’s David Ulch.
“We knew the first year every game was going to be kind of tough just because of the number of new players that we have. Our total team probably has maybe five or six guys who have league experience, all the rest are brand new.”
The win improved the Axemen’s season record to 3-0 as they sit alone atop the South Conference standings. Next up is an away game against the 2017 national champion Rhinos on Saturday, June 15, 2019.