Mayhem Overcome Copperheads
Tampa scored first, three minutes into the game, with a non-converted try (one of four scored by the Mayhem’s Justin Branca) to take a 4-0 lead.
Tampa followed this with another unconverted try just two minutes later to extend its lead to 8-0.
However, the Copperheads answered the Mayhem’s two scores with tries in the 23rd and 25th minutes to jump in front 10-8.
With six minutes left in the half, Tampa scored a converted try to regain its advantage at 14-10 and that’s how the scores remained through halftime.
Five minutes into the second half, the Mayhem scored another converted try extending its lead over the Copperheads to 20-10. Tampa would score again with 18 minutes left in the match to take a 26-10 advantage.
But, once again, the Copperheads scored three more tries, two of which they converted, to tie the game at 26-26 with 17 minutes left on the clock.
Then, with 11 minutes left in the game, Tampa scored two more tries, one converted, to retake the lead 36-26.
Five minutes later, the Copperheads scored a converted try to cut the Mayhem’s lead to 36-32.
As the game ended, Tampa scored one more unconverted try for a final score of 40-32.
For the Copperheads, their try-scorers were led by Jay Mumbo with two, while Jean Fortin, Timothy Ashum, Jade Kermundu and Heiko Dannenmann all pitched in with singles.
Kermundu converted three of the scores, while Mumbo added one.
Copperheads founder Curtis Goddard says it was clearly their most competitive game of the season so far.
“We committed far fewer penalties than we have all season which kept us in this game. We also did a better job of making the opposition play through a full set of six and finish with a kick. In previous weeks, and periodically this weekend, we committed penalty upon penalty and gave them a short field to score on us, which has led to our large points differential this season. Our new club’s education will go on the road this final week to our first-round playoff game against the Jacksonville Axemen.”
Speaking of the Axemen, they stamped their authority on the conference with a 40-point victory over the defending champion Atlanta Rhinos.
Playing at home at the University of North Florida soccer fields, Jacksonville got on the board early and never looked in jeopardy of losing the lead.
The Rhinos, who made the trip missing several players, made things more difficult for themselves by continually spilling the ball while trying to build momentum which only served to give Jacksonville additional possession and the home team made them pay.
The Axemen built a 34-0 halftime lead through tries by David Washington (2), Lachlan Bristow (2), Kevin Wathen and Jed Pearce.
When play resumed in the second half, Atlanta went on the attack, but again coughed up possession right on the Axemen’s tryline to undo all their good work.
It was Jacksonville that scored first when captain Jon Purnell bulled his way over the line while dragging several defenders with him to push the score out to 40-0.
Atlanta finally got on the board when winger Joshua Jackson scooped up a loose ball in his own end and ran 80 meters to score.
However, Axemen hooker Bristow put the icing on the cake with his third try of the game late in the piece for a final score of 46-6.
Jacksonville head coach Sean Rutgerson says he was particularly pleased with the team’s efforts defensively.
“We set the tone in defense and we had control. We had the numbers in there. They did score one try but I’m happy with what we did.”
The first round of the SOUTH Conference playoffs will see Jacksonville hosting the Copperheads and the Rhinos at home to Tampa.