Both the Axemen and the Warriors have had the fortune of both being powerhouse Rugby League teams in the USA over the past three years.
The Axemen have been resilient in their games at Hodges Stadium, UNF that has resulted in a home win record that now spans three and a half years. It was the middle of the 2008 season that the Axemen and their fans experienced a loss to a visiting team either in the regular season or playoff games. This record is now being used as motivation by all the visiting teams to find a way to be the ones that knock the Axemen off their home win pedestal, and none more than the New Haven Warriors.
The Connecticut team still have vivid memories of holding a half time lead in last years National Championship game, only to have the Axemen come out in the second half and dominate the scoreboard to give the Florida team their first National Title and a complete undefeated season. New Haven also had their chance at redemption on the Axemen home opener this season, but injuries and some import players being unavailable led to the Axemen again stomping on their parade.
But that was then and this is now, and the Warriors have turned their season around after a slow start and have smashed their way into the Semi Finals by crushing some teams by more than 50 points. They are foaming a mouth to stop the Axemen cruising into their third Title game in as many years and also end the undefeated home win record the Axemen hold so dear.
The tension in the air in the Axemen camp is also starting to get a little “crisp” as they start feeling the pressure of just how passionate the visiting team is going to be. “This one is for all the marbles”, said Coach Howland. “Getting the Warriors in the opening round was one thing, but the playoffs are a totally different game. This is win or go home time and our desire to get another title is equally matched by their desire to be the team that brings the Axemen season to an abrupt halt. This really is going to come down to the team that just wants it the most.”
Adding to the pressure is the fact that Australian Import player Bryce Collins, who was on loan from the Orange County Outlaws is out due to injury, and impact player (and fan favorite) Akarika Dawn is also unavailable due to work commitments in Houston. Of course this will be used as motivation by the Axemen team who has overcome a disastrous season of injuries and still managed to end the season as the number one seed. They recently traveled to Washington DC with six regular players missing from the roster and still managed to defeat the previously perfect season that DC was holding onto.
“No matter what way to look at this game”, said Axemen marketing chief Drew Slover, ” this game is going to be full of desire, passion and the unrelenting will to win for the entire 80 minutes. If ever there was a time to say the stars had aligned to give us the most dramatic match up, this is pretty much that time.”
The game will kick off at 5pm at UNF’s Hodges Stadium at 5pm this Saturday (gates open at 4pm) with $5 walk up entry and $1 beers as always.
The Axemen promise a full afternoon of action and entertainment with the Axe Maiden Cheerleaders and some fantastic raffle prizes.