The Toronto Arrows host the Houston SaberCats on February 16 at 2:30 pm ET at Sam Boyd Stadium as part of MLR Vegas Weekend. The match is being broadcast on TSN and streamed on ESPN+. International viewers who are not located in Canada may watch on Major League Rugby Facebook live.
Last week, the Arrows beat the Austin Gilgronis and the Houston SaberCats won against the Colorado Raptors.
Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn has made one change in his starters and two in the reserves for the match against the Houston SaberCats. Jonny Sheridan starts at wing in his first match of the 2020 MLR season. Josh Van Horne at lock and Will Kelly at flyhalf join the roster as reserves.
Thirteen full internationals have been named to Toronto’s matchday squad, carrying a combined cap total of 188 matches.
The Toronto Arrows are also doing a first in MLR with tweeting the week’s injury reports specifying player status with either upper or lower-body injuries.
Last week the Toronto Arrows showed that they are one of the best scrummaging teams in the league. That will be tested early in the match, as that has been a Houston strength.
Look for the ball being moved wide and for the centers crashing to keep the defense honest. Sam Malcolm has switched this season from flyhalf to fullback and his boot is one of the best in the league.
Chris Silverthorn indicated that “We know Houston can be pretty stingy defensively, and they showed it last weekend against Colorado,” added Silverthorn. “They finished their 2019 season on the right foot, and if they replicate that type of form this Sunday, we’ll need to be sharp if we want to take maximum points. Even though it’s early in the season, the stakes are still high, especially as this fixture counts as one of our home matches. We want to leave it all on the pitch.”
Toronto is in second place in the Eastern Conference standings with five points with NOLA Gold topping the standing on point differential +33 to +28. New England and Rugby ATL also have five points and are at +20 and +9, respectively.
If you missed last week’s match, it is available at youtu.be/ObNBMLPgttQ
Austin Gilgronis vs Toronto Arrows Highlights
The Houston SaberCats come into the match against the Toronto Arrows with a five-game winning streak and sit in second place in the Western Conference with four points.
Head Coach Paul Healy has made three changes to the starters since last week’s win over Colorado and one change in the reserves. Timothy Caldallader and Tim Stanfill join the matchday squad for the first time this season at hooker and with Stanfill in the reserves. Luke Beauchamp and Taylor Howden move from the reserves to starting roles at flanker and at inside center, respectively.
Last week the SaberCats showed greater patience with Sam Windsor accounting for the majority of the points through his boot and a try. Matias Freyre was stellar at the outside center and moves to fullback this week. Tiaan Loots also moves from inside to outside center and will pair with Howden.
A key to the match will be the contest in the forwards in set play. Both teams will try to assess that early. Look for tactical kicking to place pressure on the defense and to minimize the time in defense within their own territory. Houston needs to get an early lead against a strong Arrows side.
Points need to be taken to punish discipline, but the team needs to defend well and minimize Arrows’ tries while pushing the ball wide to take advantage of their outside speed.
Houston SaberCats vs Colorado Raptors Highlights
Squads with Player Article Links
Toronto Arrows: 1 Richie Asiata 2 Andrew Quattrin 3 Cole Keith 4 Mike Sheppard 5 Paul Ciulini 6 Tomas de la Vega7 Lucas Rumball 8 Manuel Diana 9 Jamie Mackenzie 10 Taylor Adams 11 Johnny Sheridan 12 Guiseppe du Toit 13 Ben LaSage14 Dan Moor (C) 15 Sam Malcolm 16 Steven Ng 17 Pat Lynott 18 Tyler Rowland 19 Josh Van Horne 20 Peter Milazzo 21 Andrew Ferguson 22 Will Kelly 23 Mitch Richardson
Houston SaberCats: 1 Valdemar Lee-Lo 2 Tim Cadwallader 3 Boyd Wiggins 4 Kyle Breytenbach 5 Victor Comptat 6 Luke Beauchamp 7 Diego Magno (VC) 8 Adriaan Booysen 9 Dewet Roos (C) 10 Sam Windsor 11 Malacchi Esdale 12 Taylor Howden 13 Tiaan Loots14 Zach Pangelinan 15 Matias Freyre 16 Diego Fortuny 17 Nicolas Solveyra 18 Charlie Connolly 19 Rob Meeson 20 Cecil Garber 21 Jake Christmann 22 Tim Stanfill 23 Kieran Farmer Head Coach Paul Healy