Illinois rugby continues conference winning streak against Minnesota

Martin Gianetti outruns a Minnesota player and scores a try during Illinois’ victory at the Complex Fields on Saturday afternoon.

By Carley Kulenkamp

The Illini came out of the gates quickly Saturday afternoon, scoring on a try by Danny Lyons in the first six minutes of play. Minnesota answered with a try of its own by Jay Kim. The game proceeded to go back and forth with each team answering the other’s scoring calls for the remainder of the first half.

“Our strengths were their weaknesses and their strengths were our weaknesses,” senior fullback Martin Giannetti said. “They were pounding, pounding, pounding with their forwards and that’s our weakness because we like playing away using our hands and our speed.”EJ

After the Golden Gophers scored early in the second half, the Illini defense stepped up and Minnesota didn’t score again.

The second half of the game was dominated by the Illini offense, which scored a total of five tries with four conversions to lead the team to a 57-20 victory.

“Our offense was very good at identifying spaces and taking advantage of opportunities,” Giannetti said.

A strong wind caused mayhem for both teams’ kicking games, but Mario Lozano was still able to go 6-8 on conversions for the Illini. EJ

Lozano, last week’s D1A Player of the Week, continued to prove his skills this weekend, leading the Illini in points scored with 17.

Illinois’ Elijah Seay added two tries, one in the first half and one in the second half. EJ

Despite the win and overall satisfaction with the Illini’s play, club president Rich Daniels would have liked to see his team commit fewer penalties and hold the Golden Gophers to one score.

Illinois is still looking at ways to improve its game, especially while heading into the last stretch of fall play. The Illini will be working on defense in particular; Daniels emphasized that he thought his team could have held the Gophers to fewer points.

Illinois is now No. 4 in the nine-team D1A Big Ten standings. The Illini have beaten conference bottom-feeders Minnesota and Iowa and lost to the conference’s top two teams, Indiana and Ohio State.

The next matchup for Illinois is Purdue. The Boilermakers have had a tough season, sitting now 0-3.EJ

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