Photo Credit: Allene Rachal
The end of the USA Rugby League (USARL) regular season has been punctuated by a strong performance by the Southwest Florida Copperheads.
Playing at home at the Paradise Coast Sports Complex in Naples, Florida, on Saturday night, the Copperheads threw everything they had at the visiting Jacksonville Axemen and were in it for a large part of the game before falling short 30-16 in their South Conference Week 7 matchup.
The first half was very competitive with the Axemen narrowly in front by 16-12 at halftime, however, as they have for most of the season, Jacksonville dominated the second forty to go home with the spoils.
Left wing Vashon Marrs and loose forward Malcolm Webb led the way for the visitors with a pair of tries each. Marrs scored his in the first half, while Webb got his in the second. They were ably backed up by centers Tony Robinson and Josh Jackson, who scored a try apiece. Hooker Mason McCrory added the rest of the points with three conversions.
Unsurprisingly, Jacksonville head coach Sean Rutgerson was pleased with the final result as it completed an undefeated run for the Axemen through the regular season.
“They had a real go,” he tells Rugby League Planet.
“We held on after giving up lots of possession. And just happy to win with no injuries.”
The Copperheads got things rolling with a try by their five-eighth Shane Spring. Halfback Kevin Kermundu added a second score in the first half and winger Roderigus Ceasar dotted down for a four-pointer in the second forty. Kermundu converted two of the tries.
From the Copperheads’ standpoint, team owner Curtis Goddard says his guys were a little down on themselves initially when they fell behind, but then they lifted and made a game of it.
“We weren’t playing heads up defense on an early try and then we started to fix the problems and made sure we had a nice up and out defensive plan on the edge,” he says. “Once we made those corrections, we were right back in it.”
In the other scheduled South Conference game, the South Florida Speed forfeited to the Tampa Mayhem.
The South Conference final will be between the Axemen and Mayhem and it is set to be played Saturday, August 13th in Jacksonville.
South Conference standings (final):
Jacksonville Axemen (6-0)
Tampa Mayhem (4-2)
Southwest Florida Copperheads (2-4)
South Florida Speed (0-6)