Yukon Rugby overcomes obstacles for second win

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Xander Burleigh runs through an Alliance defender during the Millers’ 17-10 win over the Fort Worth team. (Submitted Photo)

By Chuck Reherman
Sports Editor
Ft. Worth – Ovecoming obstacles.
Yukon’s Rugby team was faced with a handful of obstacles in their second match of the season, but managed to come away with a 17-10 win over the Alliance Rugby Club played in Fort Worth.
The Miller team went into the match short handed due to what head coach Aric Gilliland called a number of ill-timed circumstances. Yukon due to family emergencies and some illnesses, went into the match with no substitutes on the bench.
And, with poor weather conditions, the weather was in the low 20s at kickoff, the Millers were hampered even further when senior Jordan Mann left the match early in the contest with a leg injury, leaving the team playing a man down.
“This type of physical match is to be expected when you play a North Texas team,” Gilliland said. “Our boys know we will rarely, if ever, be the biggest or fastest team on the pitch. We have to play tough, be strong and go hard.
“Our players stepped up and did that today under difficult circumstances,” he said. “Xander Burleigh especially was a great example of that. I’m proud of the spark his effort brought our team today.”
The match was physical from the first whistle. The first 10 minutes produced little more than a midfield stalemate littered with dropped passes and penalties until Burleigh broke things open with a strong run through the Alliance defense and into the try zone. Junior center Julian Barrera added the two-point conversion kick to give the Millers the initial 7-0 lead.
It did not take Alliance long to answer with a try of it’s own but the conversion failed leaving Yukon ahead 7-5. Just before halftime Alliance appeared to be making a goal line stand against Yukon but after several phases of play senior forward Luke Lombard pounded his way through several Alliance tacklers into the try zone. The conversion failed and Yukon took a 12-5 lead into the intermission.
The second half almost mirrored the first. After several physical minutes Barrera broke a run into the open field that would continue all the way to the try zone. The conversion failed, but Yukon opened a 17-5 lead.
The Millers held that lead most of the second half until Alliance found some momentum late in the game scoring a try with about eight minutes left in the match. In the final minutes Alliance managed to stall the Yukon attack and was driving the ball when time ran out and the ball was knocked forward ending the match.
“We did have a few silly mistakes,” Gilliland said. “We played a bigger team with more speed. That kind of pressure can cause kids to do things they normally wouldn’t. We’ve got to get to a place where perfect rugby is second nature regardless of who lines up across from us. Overall I couldn’t be more proud of the way this boys played under the circumstances that met them today.”