Rugby team faces Union in semifinals

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Dalton Walters and Tanner Goodson bring down a union runner during a match in late March. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

By Chuck Reherman
Sports Editor
Yukon will seek a spot in the state championships tonight, as the Millers make a trek to the east side of the state to take on Tulsa Union in the opening round of the rugby playoffs.
The Millers, who have faced Union twice this season, will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. in Tulsa.
The Millers lost to Union 38-12 in the pre-season, then fell 26-21 in a match in March.
Yukon is looking for the “third time to be the charm” against the Redskins team.
The state championships will be held April 28 in Yukon on the pitch at LES Stadium.
The loser of tonight’s match plays Jenks for third and the winner will play Bixby for the state title. Bixby beat Jenks Thursday night in the other semifinal playoff match.
“We are a better team than when we played Union in the pre-season,” Miller coach Aric Gilliland said. “In the regular season match, we showed that we can play with anyone.
“This week we have to prove that we can do more than just hang with Union,” Gilliland said. “We need to beat them. In order to do that, we will follow the same game plan and maintain possession by eliminating turnovers and penalties.
“We are a little banged up, so that presents an obstacle, but we have kids ready to step up at every position. We are excited to see how the week goes.”
It was a tough night for Yukon’s Miller rugby team.
A quick score put the Millers in the hole and they never recovered, losing a 38-12 decision to Bixby in the final regular season match at Bixby.
Bixby returned the opening kick and scored two more trys on Miller mistakes that put Yukon in a 31-0 hole by the intermission.
“The dynamic was strange,” Miller coach Aric Gilliland said. “We didn’t play bad, but the mistakes we made were very costly. Giving up a score on the opening kick can suck the life out of you quickly.
“Add two dropped balls that turned into quick scores and you are playing from way behind,” he added. “The second half we minimized turnovers and had very few penalties. The second half was more reminiscent of Yukon rugby, but it was too late.”
Bixby had four tries, four conversions and a penalty kick that led to a 31-0 halftime lead.
The Millers played better defense in the second half and was able to get correct their mistakes and get over the goal line. Chaslyn Parker and Curtis Watson scored the tries.
Parker scored after chasing a series of his own kicks down the field and downed it in the try zone for the first Miller score, cutting the lead to 31-5. Watson scored on a short run after a penalty. The Millers missed on both try attempts.
“Bixby always has a good team,” Gilliland said. “They have been the state runner-ups the past two years and beat us in the semifinals last year. It was a physical match against and always well coached team.”