What a big day for Toronto Arrows Joaquin Tuculet (see the main picture), Ross Braude, and Gaston Cortes, as they scored their first-ever MLR tries in a big win over the Seattle Seawolves.
Toronto would end up scoring seven tries against Seattle. What was most impressive about Saturday’s performance was the Arrows only giving up one try. Their defence had been a problem for the Arrows for the first four games of the MLR (Major League Rugby) season but, that concern was transformed as the ‘big win’ earns them more confidence after Round 5.
Joaquin Tuculet had a big game against defending MLR Champions
The man doesn't just run; he glides. ✨@joacotuculet
📸 » Ben Weitz pic.twitter.com/dnrORh9Lkq
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) April 18, 2021
Toronto Arrows Joaquin Tuculet steps up in offence
The Arrows back scored the first tries in the North American competition in both halves of the mach. This played a big role in Toronto winning the game against Seattle, especially that first try, which was scored in the third minute. The 56-Test Argentine International Joaquin Tuculet, seemed to finally show his match winning offensive flair against Seattle.
Co-captain Ben LeSage scored in the ninth minute and the Arrows were already leading 14-0 after both conversions were slotted over by Tayler Adams.
Ross's first @usmlr try 💪💪
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) April 17, 2021
It was more of the same in the second half. Patrick Parfrey scored the first try of the second half in the 45-minute. The Arrows would score three more tries in the second half, which included another ‘meat pie’ for Tuculet.
Jason Higgins and Gaston Cortes were the other try-scorers.
Seattle Seawolves made too many turnovers in poor display
The Seattle Seawolves made a lot of errors in the game. By the 8-minute mark, the Seawolves already made two errors in the game. It was a sign of things to come for Seattle. For example, the Seawolves mishandled the ball two times in short succession. Repeated mistakes would hurt Seattle as it looked like they were gaining momentum.
However, one incident that might hurt them the most was when Mike Shepherd wrapped his arms around Luas Rumball’s neck, and tried to pull him out of a ruck. This was a dangerous play, and his action may be looked at by the MLR judiciary panel.
Individual discipline was a major contribution to Toronto’s possession advantage that meant that the Arrows had more time with their hands on the ball.
6️⃣1️⃣ – TRY TIME! After a strong @manudiana96 run, Higgins gets into open space and claims the five points for his third try of the season! Adams hits the conversion, and we're up 45-7!#ArrowsUp | #TORvSEA pic.twitter.com/ORRcxTJ8pA
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) April 17, 2021
There was also the turnover the Seawolves committed in the 61st minute. Seattle was on the offensive at the time, but the turnover immediately gave the momentum to Toronto, and it resulted in another Arrows try.
Toronto Arrows’ defence faced up against Seattle Seawolves
Toronto’s defence has not been great this season. Before the game against Seattle, Toronto was really struggling to keep teams off the scoreboard. So giving up only seven points against the MLR champions demonstrates the standard to hold themselves to on the defensive end. This is what Le Rouge Rugby said about the defence after the first half.
— Le Rouge Rugby (@Lerougerugby) April 17, 2021
There were a few examples of this in the game. For example, the TSN broadcasters talked positively about co-captain Ben LeSage. In the 21st minute, LeSage played a big role in defending a Seattle attack, and ended up picking the ball off from George Barton of the Seawolves. This dominant defensive performance by the Arrows continued in the second half.
There was also the try scored by Higgins. Created expertly by Manuel Diana intercepting a Seattle pass. The play-by-play broadcasters were impressed by the Arrows’ defence, as much as by the Canadian franchises ability on attack.
— Raheem (@bashirra) April 17, 2021
Other factors leading to Victory, and MLR conference standings
The Seattle Seawolves’ defence was not great. They allowed far too many defenders to slip through the tackle. However, by comparison, the Arrows offensive flow was on full display on Saturday.
Toronto's 52-7 win over Seattle is the largest margin of victory in #MLRugby history. It beats the previous mark of 42 points jointly held by Seattle (52-10 vs Houston) and Glendale (64-22 vs Utah) from the 2019 season.
— Bryan Ray (@raysrugby) April 17, 2021
This statistic is quite impressive from the Arrows’ point of view. It shows to MLR that Toronto is a contender to win their first MLR title this year, especially after easily beating the two-time defending champions.
In particular, Joaquín Tuculet had his finest game yet in an Arrows jersey, scoring the first two MLR tries of his career – and fans should expect more of the same from the former Pumas senior player.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) April 18, 2021
The Arrows now have two wins, three losses, and three bonus points. They are currently in third place of the Eastern Conference, tied on 11 points with two other teams. However, Toronto has a better aggregate points difference than Rugby Atlanta. This leaves the Arrows competing with the New England Free Jacks.
Toronto has scored more tries than New England, but it is important to note that the Free Jacks have played one less game compared with Toronto.
For Seattle, it is important to note too that the Seawolves have played one game less than all Western conference teams except, the LA Giltinis. That will aide the Washington state side, as they must fight now to earn a playoff spot after the mauling at the hands of Toronto.
The Seawolves’ last game this month will be against the Austin Gilgronis on Sunday, April. 25 at BOLD Stadium in Austin at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game can be watched on The Rugby Network, KBVO, and ROOT SPORTS.
For the victors, the Arrows will travel to New York City next on April 25. There, Toronto will face their expansion cousins Rugby United New York. The game is scheduled in Canada on TSN2 at 2:00 p.m. ET. It can also be watched on The Rugby Network and MSG.