Chris Wyatt, Rugby Ascendant, Guest Journalist DJCoil Rugby
Near-perfect weather conditions with temperatures in the high 50s and sunshine throughout the game made for an excellent setting for Old Glory DC’s second home game in Leesburg, Virginia. Sadly, things did not go well for the home side, as the visiting Toronto Arrows (1-2-0) raced out to 15 to nil lead less than a quarter of the way through the match. The Arrows led 18-7 at the half and never looked back, defeating Old Glory DC (1-1-1) 40-19.
Tyler Rowland, Manuel Diana, Ben LeSage, Gaston Mieres, and Jason Higgins scored tries for Toronto (1-2-0), which led 18-7 at the half. The Arrows flyhalf Tayler Adams kicked three conversions, a penalty, and even notched a drop goal as the first half closed. Will Kelly added a penalty conversion for the Arrows who, with their blue and white hoop jerseys, looked very much like South Africa’s Western Province team.
The victory was Toronto’s first on the season. The Arrows finished the pandemic abbreviated 2020 Major League Rugby season with an impressive 4-1-0 record and were expected to be a front runner this season. But expectations and outcomes do not always sync up in sports. The Arrows began the season with two losses after falling 21-14 to Atlanta (whom Old Glory defeated in week two) and the Utah Warriors 39-24 in week two. However, on Saturday spectators witnessed more of what folks were expecting of Toronto this season, as the Arrows capitalized on numerous Old Glory penalties and surged to an early lead they never relinquished.
Toronto, which suited up 18 Canadians among its matchday 23-man squad, is playing all its games outside Canada this season. Pandemic restrictions have forced Major League Rugby to be creative with the Arrows based in Atlanta this season. So, in essence, its entire schedule is on the road.
After a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Rugby ATL last weekend, Old Glory looked poised to climb to the top of the log with another win at home. The game began well with OG marching up and down the field, holding its own for the first eight minutes or so. But OG mistakes were frequent and too many penalties were costly. After a deliberate knock-on called against Old Glory, Toronto won its lineout at the five-meter line and used a rolling maul with Tyler Rowland scoring the game’s first try in the tenth minute. Tayler Adams missed the conversion. But trailing 5-0 was the closest Old Glory would be the rest of this game. Several times, appearing to be on the verge of scoring, Old Glory turned the ball over within meters of the try line. It appeared as if DC would not score. But in the 39th minute, OG pulled a rabbit out of the hat, just a day shy of Easter when Thretton Palamo plowed his way up the pitch in a stunning solo effort. Danny Tusitala converted the try and OG went into the half on a good note, trailing 18-7.
Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz and James King scored tries for Old Glory in the second half. But it was too little on a day when a winless Toronto played the way they were expected to this season. It is not clear if the effort against the Ratlers the previous week had an impact on OG’s performance on the pitch this week, but it is certain that once out in front, the Arrows were not going to relinquish their lead.
Pandemic restrictions once again limited crowd size, with 700 spectators at Segra Field. The victory moves the previously winless Arrows into fourth place with six table points on the log and one spot above Old Glory based on point difference (-1 to -14 for OG). Toronto hosts Los Angeles at its temporary Atlanta home on April 10th while Old Glory gets a bye week.
Squads With Player Article Links, & Match Preview
Old Glory DC: 1 Jamie Dever 2 Mikey Sosene-Feagai 3 Steven Longwell 4 Tevita Naqali 5 Stan South 6 Luke Campbell 7 Mungo Mason (c) 8 Jamason Fa’anana Schultz 9 Danny Tusitala 10 Mike Dabulas 11 D’Montae Noble 12 Doug Fraser 13 Thretton Palamo 14 Sam Cusano 15 Renata Roberts-TeNana16 James King 17 Max Lum 18 Jack Carroll 19 Api Naikatini 20 Callum Gibbins 21 Daniel Thomas 22 Simi Moala 23 Josh Brown
Toronto Arrows: 1 Cole Keith 2 Andrew Quattrin 3 Tyler Rowland 4 Adrian Wadden 5 Paul Ciulini 6 Tomás de la Vega 7 Lucas Rumball (cc) 8 Manuel Diana 9 Ross Braude 10 Tayler Adams 11 Gastón MIeres 12 Guiseppe du Toit 13 Ben LeSage (cc) 14 Mitch Richardson 15 Joaquin Tuclet 16 Jack McRogers 17 Pat Lynott 18 Liam Murray ( ST loan Houston) 19 Mike Sheppard 20 Kolby Francis 21 Jason Higgins 22 Will Kelly 23 Patrick Parfrey
The Old Glory DC Clonakilty Captain’s Bottle is a symbol of hard work and tradition; awarded to the player chosen by the Old Glory squad from the opposite team who showed excellent play and leadership on the pitch. Congratulations to Joaquín Tuculet from the Toronto Arrows for being selected as Old Glory’s Man of the Match!