After an up-and-down preseason, Jacksonville started the 2015-2016 DII Men’s Matrix Season by hosting Tampa Krewe at home. With perfect weather throughout the day, Jacksonville was looking to protect their home turf and start their regular season off with a good performance.
From the start of the game, Jacksonville defense was attacking Krewe’s offensive push. Counter rucking became a theme early and throughout the match, which led to big offensive opportunities that Jacksonville would convert into points. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, Jacksonville put up 3 tries thanks to Winger Sean Balaban. JAX’s forwards and centers would suck in the Krewe’s defense, which gave Balaban the space to sprint past Krewe’s backs into the try zone. Tampa would fight back with a try on the weak side from a scrum, but a strong defensive stand after demoralized Tampa’s offense. Inside Center Brian Hutchison, who was coming off of a international Rugby League stint with Jamaica, found opportunities in the center of the field and ran for 50 meters for the try. Tampa had a small push in the end of the half again and put a try, but after another try from Balaban and five for the half, JAX seemed to have the game locked up.
The game seemed to slow down in the second half, but in Jacksonville was able to keep the momentum in their favor. With substitutions starting to come on, JAX maintained solid possession of the ball and, once again, Balaban put in yet another try, leaving his total number of tries to 6 for the day. Shortly after, flanker Erik Schiff got an offload from hooker Larry Newkirk for yet another try. With early season fitness waining, Jacksonville stayed in control would come away with the win.
Final score: 48-17
Tries: Sean Balaban (6), Brian Hutchinson, Erik Schiff
Conversions: Ryan Peterson (4)