Mayhem dominate the Axemen 42 -24 to Advance to the Southern Conference Finals
A sensational performance from the 17 dressed Mayhem players delivered the finishing blow to the Jacksonville Axemen’s season on Saturday. While it was undoubtedly the Mayhem’s best performance as a unit in 2017, possibly in their history, one performance stood out above the others.
Matthew Cook has played Hooker all season but a host of tactical changes prior to the Axemen game saw him moved to the halves alongside Joel Armstrong while Brogan Jackson and Kevin Curtis were moved into the pack playing Hooker and Back row respectively. Curtis had arguably his best game of the season at 11 and Jackson looked natural in his new position at 9.
Cook however was a revelation. He scored another hat trick to take his try tally for the season to 13; smashing the previous Mayhem record set by Jon St John and was the heartbeat of the team.
It was Cooks class that opened the game up in the first half; the game could have turned in an instant as neither team gave up any room in what became an arm wrestle. The Axemen took an early lead after a fumble in attacking territory allowed the Axemen winger to break for a 90 yard interception but the Mayhem didn’t let up and responded soon after with Cooks first try. An unforced error from the Axemen saw a repeat set from a goal line drop out and a beautiful show and go from dummy half saw Cook go over almost unopposed.
The goal line defence from the Mayhem was at seasons best before the Mayhem scored two more tries before half time. At one point the Mayhem defended a lung bursting five sets of tackles on their own goal line, an accomplishment not many teams can achieve in a game.
The Mayhem took the lead after the Axemen failed to deal with a Crossfield kick from Cook; recently capped USA international David Ulch diving on the loose ball to score and followed up by Cooks second; a show and go in which barely a player touched him never mind tackled him. All three tries were converted meaning the Mayhem took an 18-6 lead into half time.
The Mayhem took complete control of the game in the third quarter; tries from New Zealand duo Jackson and Curtis, before Cook completed his hat trick took the Mayhem out to a 36-6 lead by the hour mark. The game was realistically over as the Axemen scored their second before barnstorming prop Andrew Zuluaga got himself on the scoreboard taking the ball 20 metres out and beating four Axemen defenders on his way to score in the corner.
The Axemen riposted with two late tries but it was far too little too late as the Mayhem chopped the Jacksonville Axemen out of USARL 2017.
Michael Grimmett and Matthew Finnesy took out Player of the Game awards; Grimmett with an outstanding game from Full back, his first ever there and Finnesy with his relentless workload was second to none from both packs but in actuality any one of the Mayhem players could have taken the award.
An accomplished performance; bring on the Rhinos!