USARL: Rhinos Upset Mayhem, Sets Stage for Saturday Rematch

Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Atlanta Rhinos take a tackle from Tampa as the away team works its way toward the try zone. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole
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USARL Action

TAMPA, FL – The Atlanta Rhinos upset the Tampa Mayhem 40-34 Saturday, 30 July, in a Southern Conference (SC) USA Rugby League (USARL) contest played on the fields of Tampa Catholic High School.

While the Mayhem tried to take control several times through the game, the club failed to successfully subdue the Rhinos. Then Atlanta capitalized on Tampa’s numerous errors in the contest’s closing minutes, allowing the Rhinos to secure an away win.

Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Mayhem push back Rhinos early in the game. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole

rhinos team_logo With the win, the With the win, the Atlanta Rhinos improves to 2-3-1, ensuring Atlanta keeps third seed going into the playoffs. The Central Florida Warriors receive the fourth seed and play first place Jacksonville Axemen Saturday at University of North Florida (UNF).

More Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Tampa tackles Atlanta, Rhinos try to drive down field. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole

mayhem-logo Due to the loss, the Tampa Mayhem fall to 3-3-0, therefore missing the opportunity to end the regular season with a winning record. Nevertheless, Tampa keeps its second seed going into the SC USARL Playoffs, and hosts Atlanta again this Saturday Saturday.

Both clubs keep game close in first half

While at times it appeared the Mayhem were about to break open the game in the first half, the Rhinos responded with scores to keep the game close for both clubs. Just eight minutes into the game, Tampa scored a converted try, taking a 6-0 lead over Atlanta. Only five minutes later, the Rhinos scored and converted a try, tying the game at 6-6.

More Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Despite Rhinos tackle, Tampa keeps ball in bounds. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole

Right before the 20 minute water break, the Mayhem scored and converted another try, putting Tampa back in the lead 12-6. Twelve minutes later, the Rhinos scored and a converted try, which tied the game at 12-12. With just five minutes before halftime, the Mayhem earned another converted try, and took an 18-12 lead over Atlanta into halftime.

Rhinos capitalize on costly Mayhem errors to come away with win

Just five minutes into the second half, Tampa scored and successfully converted a try. With this score, Tampa earned a commanding 24-12 lead over Atlanta. At this point, the Mayhem seemed to have taken control of the game. However, the Rhinos responded with a converted try nine minutes into the second half, and then another 13 minutes into the second half, tying the game at 24-24.

More Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Tampa tackles Atlanta as Rhinos near try zone. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole

Then sixteen minutes into the second half, Tampa scored and converted a try, putting the Mayhem back ahead by a score of 30-24. Just four minutes later, the Rhinos responded with a converted try to tie the game back up at 30. After the Atlanta score, Tampa scored one more (and final) try. However, the Mayhem missed the conversion, giving Tampa a precarious 34-30 lead with 18 minutes left in the game.

More Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Atlanta Rhino gets drilled by Mayhem defense. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole

Nevertheless, the Rhinos refused to roll over and take the loss. With just two minutes left in the game, Atlanta scored and converted a try, taking a 36-34 lead over Tampa. Atlanta scored one more try as time expired (no conversion attempted), to win the game 40-30.

Each team talks about its performance in the Atlanta vs. Tampa game

The Atlanta Rhinos’ Salesi Tongamoa talked to Rugby Wrap Up about his team’s unexpected win over the Tampa Mayhem:

Tongamoa:We [Atlanta Rhinos] came with a mission of trying to end our season on a high note. We knew Tampa was a force. We worked really, really hard these past two weeks to institute a new defense. The defensive changes worked in some areas, but in others we still have work to do. Overall, I am really proud of the boys. In the end, We really pulled it together to finish the game on a high note.

Tampa Mayhem Assistant Coach Billy Neilson had the following to say about the Mayhem’s loss to the Rhinos:

Neilson: “Our [Tampa Mayhem] ball control needs to improve, as there was not enough set completion. Also, we need to get better at finishing at the try line as well, not to mention we left a few tries off the board. However, team fitness was very good. Last but not least, we had a lot of younger guys get in some quality playing time.”

Mayhem vs. Rhinos
Tampa Mayhem defense stiffs Atlanta Rhinos again. Photo Credit: Brian C. Cole

Two teams meet again for rematch Saturday

Despite yesterday’s loss, Tampa (3-3-0) had previously secured the second seed going into the SC USARL Playoffs. So the Mayhem will still host the first round of the playoffs. Next Saturday, 06 August, Tampa takes on the number three seed, which again the Atlanta Rhinos, at Tampa Catholic High School. Afterwards, the winner of this game will take on the winner of the Jacksonville Axemen vs. Central Florida Warriors 13 August matchup.

Links to more information about the clubs, the SC USARL, and RWU

That is all for now. Please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @BrianCCole, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @LukeBienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @GeHar and @Declan Yeats.


P.S…
Keep up with the Jacksonville Axemen, Atlanta Rhinos, Tampa Mayhem, Central Florida Warriors, and the SE USA Rugby League (USARL) this season with the help of Rugby Wrap Up. To learn more about the Jacksonville Axemen, please visit the club’s website. For more information about the Atlanta Rhinos, please visit the club’s website. To learn more about the Central Florida Warriors, please visit the team’s website. For more information about the Tampa Mayhem, please visit the team’s website. For additional information about the USA Rugby League (USARL), please visit the USARL website.

About Brian C. Cole 52 Articles
Mass Comm Grad Student at USF in Tampa Bay, FL (US); write about Rugby as well as Music, Politics, and Weather; Photographer; covers SE Division of USA Rugby League (Atlanta Rhinos,, Jacksonville Axemen, Lakeland Renegades, Southwest Florida Copperheads and the Tampa Mayhem); works with Tampa Mayhem & Tampa Bay Krewe RFC.