THE RESULT OF THE GAME
New York Knights 36......Defeated......Jacksonville Axemen 12
THE GAME REPORT
The New York Knights have been crowned 2009 American National Rugby League champions following Championship Final XII Saturday night in New York City.
The Knights downed the Jacksonville Axemen 32-12 in a free-flowing Grand Final at Pier 40 in Manhattan.
Australian rugby league test legend Steve Menzies gave the New York team an inspirational talk before the match and it seemed to pay dividends right from the opening kickoff as the Knights came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt at a track meet.
Xavier Loguenez made New York’s intentions known from the get go with a crashing 35-meter bust down field to put his team in a good attacking position.
That storming run set up a clinical set for the Knights that was finished off by center Col Manners, who scored near the uprights. Manners converted his own try and New York grabbed an early 6-0 lead.
Minutes after that touchdown, the Knights were in again when John Meoli skirted Jacksonville’s cover defense to extend the scoreline to 10-0.
The Axemen, who rarely found themselves behind the eight ball all season long, were suddenly set back on their heels trailing by 10 at the end of the first quarter.
Despite their best efforts to try to get in the game, Jacksonville leaked a third try early in the second quarter as Leo Reynolds muscled his way through the defensive line to dot down for New York. The conversion attempt missed leaving the score at 14-0.
The Axemen finally stemmed the tide by hitting back with their first score of the game when Daryl ‘Spinner’ Howland forced his way over the line. His try was converted by Brent Shorten for a 14-6 scoreline as halftime closed in.
Although the NYC skies looked threatening because of Tropical Storm Danny, the rain held off as the teams went into the locker rooms.
The third quarter opened much as the previous two frames had with both teams not giving an inch.
In typical finals football mode, crunching hit-ups were met by equally big hits on defense as each pack of forwards sought to gain the ascendancy.
Things began to look bleak for the Floridians as Loguenez hit pay dirt with New York’s fourth try of the night. Manners’ shot at goal after was off target, but the team from the big apple had opened up a handy 18-6 lead.
The Axemen were having trouble completing their sets and at times their marker defense was found wanting, none more so than when New York’s always dangerous halfback Luke Hume spotted some space and made them pay with a trademark dash to the line to put the home side ahead 22-6 as the third quarter wound down.
Jacksonville, making a first ever appearance in a championship game, opened the fourth quarter with a long range converted score by Brent Shorten to close the gap to 22-12, but that’s as close as they would get.
The Knights slammed the door shut with their sixth try. The Manners conversion attempt missed, but New York was now within sight of its second AMNRL title at 26-12 with 10 to go.
The icing on the cake came from the ensuing restart when Chris Carey made a 70-meter rush towards the try zone before offloading to ex-Old Blue Super League player Ben Sadgrove, who finished it off. This time Manners was good with the points after and the Knights were on their way to the winners’ circle at 32-12.
The win kept New York’s championship batting average at 1000. The Knights have now appeared in two Grand Finals, winning both of them - their previous triumph was in 2002.