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Axemen blank Meraloma in Division 2 home playoff semifinal

Blake Mahovic, Peter Foley and Giles Calder found the end zone in a 33-0 triumph

The Axemen Rugby Club is heading back to the BC Rugby Division 2 championship game. 

Captained by Neil Irwin, the Sea to Sky’s premier rugby union team pitched a home shutout last weekend against Meraloma 33-0. Blake Mahovic, Peter Foley and Giles Calder all breached the try line in victory. 

A wet and blustery day proved to be its own challenge, but hardly an insurmountable one, and the final score did reflect the nature of the game. 

“I was playing fullback and I didn’t have to make a single tackle,” Mahovic recalled. “Defensively speaking, we were phenomenal. Even when [Meraloma] were at our five-metre line, they didn’t really look like they would score. I think that’s a testament to the grit we have, and more importantly the camaraderie we’ve been trying to build throughout the season.”

Added player-coach Steve List: “With the conditions [on Saturday], we had to play a bit of field position. We kept them in the right areas of the field, applied lots of pressure and just wore them down with some penalty kicks. When it came to defending, everyone fronted up.” 

Division 3 Axemen also saw postseason action in Chilliwack, where they fell 18-5 in spite of a valiant effort. 

Cherry on the cake 

Having finished the regular season atop Division 2 rankings, the Axemen looked poised and confident as playoff favourites at Howe Sound Secondary (HSS). 

Meraloma guarded their end zone jealously at first, but Foley opened the scoring with two smooth penalty kicks. Physical play from the home team wore down the visitors from Vancouver, enabling Mahovic to eventually outflank the defence. The former Toronto Wolfpack Man of the Match broke free with a long, spectacular try down the near side of the field.

Foley contributed two more penalty kicks, one near the end of the first half and another to establish a 17-0 lead at the beginning of the second frame. As errors and hard hits piled up, the Axemen had a few different offensive forays end in turnovers while the Meraloma sideline became visibly upset over a yellow card. Regardless, the Sea to Sky unit continued to keep their opponents away from the dangerous areas of the pitch. 

“We’re really lucky that every Thursday we train against the Division 3 side of our club who are really good,” said List. “We train at a real high intensity so when it comes to game time, things look familiar. We’re really happy when it gets intense.” 

Mahovic again received the ball and charged through visiting defenders like a man possessed, pinballing off multiple tackles before finally going down deep in Meraloma territory. His heroics set up Foley for a try of his own. 

“I had the benefit of not having to do much…so when I did get the ball, I'm fresh and I'm playing against guys who've been working really hard,” Mahovic said modestly about his performance. “They were just a little bit slower [and more tired], and that gave me a bit of an advantage over them. It’s a testament to our defence really—they allowed me the opportunity to go on those runs.” 

The latter part of the second half was all Axemen, who cruised to triumph in a businesslike manner. Cameron Dare eventually put together a bruising gallop of his own and Giles Calder cleaned things up for a late insurance try. 

The Axemen are poised to go for another Division 2 title this Saturday in Burnaby against Kamloops, but that’s not what they want people to fixate on. 

“We've been able to take two squads of 23 guys all the way through to the semifinals, [Division 2 and Division 3], and I think that's the real big win for us," remarked Mahovic. "I'm already ecstatic with what we've achieved this year, and next week will be a cherry on a pretty incredible cake.”