Defiance 3-0 after rout of Breckenridge
Defiance Rugby Football Club coach Bob Herrell knew his players had a big day in them.
“We are about to explode,” Herrell said during his pregame address. “This is a team that is about to take center stage.”
Defiance did just that on Saturday – for a good portion of the game, anyway. The end result: a 38-15 road win over the Breckenridge Blue Goose.
The win pushed the Glenwood Springs-based Defiance squad to 3-0 on the summer.
Glenwood got to work immediately.
A four-minute possession ended in an A.J. Miller try and conversion right off the bat, staking Defiance to a 7-0 lead.
Six minutes in, Matt “Biscuit” Martin picked up a steal from a scrum and, after several fortuitous bounces, the ball squirted into “Lil’ Nicky” Garay’s hands. Garay beat the remaining defense around the corner to give Defiance a 12-0 advantage.
Defiance’s quick start left Breckenridge shell-shocked. Justin “Gravy” Unrien had 80 yards rushing in the first 10 minutes, regularly carrying three guys.
At the 10-minute mark, Unrien busted off a 22-yard run without ever seeing open field and always carrying at least one guy on his back. Somehow, he got his hand free to dump a pass to Miller, who squib-kicked it and recovered his 20-meter kick. Martin picked up the rucked ball, advanced it to the 30 and then dumped it to Alonzo “Zo” Detmeier.
Detmeier, a longtime Defiance veteran, caught the ball and made an off-balance move to the outside for a try in the corner and a 19-0 Defiance lead.
For the next 7 minutes, 23 seconds, Defiance looked to score from any place on the field – in any situation and on any and every play.
Then, at the 17:23 mark, Glenwood blew up.
It started small but escalated quickly – a missed pass here, a hands-in penalty there.
Breckenridge never seriously threatened, but, as Herrell put it, Defiance “did their best to let them back in the game.”
“By the second half, Defiance was so jittery that they let in a long possession and a try in the first five minutes,” Herrell said.
Eventually, the forwards had had enough. On a defensive 5-meter scrum, the pack stole the ball and drove over a “push in” try, the most debilitating score in rugby. Suddenly, Defiance came alive but still didn’t manage to control the rucks with diving-over penalties and, again, hands in the ruck.
The backs decided that if clean ball wasn’t an option, Unrien was. After 60 yards of Bronco Nagurski running, Unrien carried three guys 10 meters into goal for the banging try of the season.
Playing just well enough to overcome its own inconsistency, the score gave Defiance a 31-5 lead.
“Right about now, I started to get angry,” Herrell said. “The backs got lazy, the forwards got lazy, individual players got lazy, and everyone decided that if they didn’t do it, someone else would step up. A team was not in evidence.
“This team could be amazing, and they took the next 15 minutes off and waited for someone else to do the hard work. That is not what I have in mind for these boys.”
At 35 minutes, well into the last 10 minutes of the game (a time frame that’s been a trouble spot for Defiance), Breck had a lineout at its own 22. In what should have been an expected desperation move, the Blue Goose threw in a quick lineout with several Defiance players casually strolling into position.
Eighty yards later, Defiance had given up its third try in the last 10 minutes in three games straight. The conversion missed its mark and the Defiance lead stood at 31-10.
Defiance answered back quickly with a quick tap-off of a penalty to Miller and scored in the 36th minute to nip the budding comeback. Miller made the conversion for a 38-10 advantage.
Defiance, now relaxed and knowing the win was at hand, let another try in with half of the team walking towards the penalty at the 10-meter line with, according to Herrell, “no sense of urgency or mission.”
“We got some excellent work from returning veterans Biscuit and Gravy, and we made an exception to the usual man of the match criteria and gave it to both of them,” Herrell said.
The perturbed coach then discussed the problems plaguing his young team.
“There are only four reasons that teams let down in the last 10 minutes of a game,” he explained. “One, lack of heart – absolutely not the case on this team. Two, overconfidence. These guys don’t even know what they are doing wrong, much less right. Three, immaturity as a team. Four, lack of fitness.”
Herrell and company will immediately go to work addressing those issues.
“We need to work on closing games and maybe dry off the backs of our ears,” he said. “We may also do a wee bit of running this week. I guess I can’t complain – 3-0 with rookies and old boys, but it only gets harder from here. We need to be ready for anything. We aren’t now. We will be.”
Next up for Defiance is a July 2 trip to Aspen.
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.