Toronto Arrows end their losing streak against the Houston SaberCats

Gastón Mieres of Uruguay playing at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast

The Toronto Arrows were the better team on Saturday. They led throughout the match and never let go of the lead, something they had trouble doing so far this season. Credit to the SaberCats whose tremendous defence helped keep the game close. However, the Arrows dominated possession, especially in the first half and there was only so much the SaberCats could do defensively.

Toronto Arrows end two-game losing streak against the Houston SaberCats

The three keys to the game

Toronto Arrows dominated possession and had the majority of the chances

The Arrows dominated possession, especially in the first half. It did take them a while to score though. The Arrows had great chances to score in the ninth and 18-minute. However, the SaberCats made incredible defensive plays. This was especially true in the ninth minute of play.

Manuel Montero scored his seventh try for the Arrows. This try was what Toronto needed in order to get momentum in the game. The SaberCats defence was terrific in the first half. However, the defence can only do so much if you cannot attack and pressure the Arrows defence. Tomás de la Vega would score the second try for the Arrows and the conversion was made. Houston would get a penalty goal at the end of the first half but still trailed 3-12.

In the second half, the game was a bit more even. However, the Arrows still had more opportunities to score than the SaberCats.

Diana (who made MLR’s week nine starting XV) was able to break through the SaberCats defence in the 64-minute. The conversion was also made in the 65-minute. This meant the Arrows got a 3-19 lead with only 15 minutes left in the game. This was enough offensively for the Arrows to take the win against Houston.

Toronto Arrows played well defensively

As said before, the Arrows had the majority of the chances. However, their defence also stepped up in key moments.

This was probably the most important play of the game. Houston kicked the ball deep into Toronto’s end and two players were chasing it, one from the SaberCats and one from the Arrows. Gastón Mieres was able to touch the ball in the Arrows goal line before the SaberCats player did. This prevented Houston from scoring a try and possibly making it a two-point game.

The Houston SaberCats only had a few chances to score throughout the game.

Houston did not have many chances to score. This was especially true in the first half, where the chances were few and far between. They did get three points via a penalty conversion though before the first half ended.

The 10-points Houston scored had more to do with discipline and mistakes than actual defence. The three points scored just before the end of the first half was a penalty goal from Australian player Sam Windsor. Then the try in the 75-minute happened because Cecil Garber blocked an Arrows’ kick. This allowed Garber to score a try late in the game. This however, was too little and too late as the Arrows end their two-game losing streak.

The Arrows also did well defending Houston’s offence early in the second half. Houston’s momentum ended when a player committed an error in the 54-minute. It was a great example of bend but not break with Toronto on Saturday.

Houston SaberCats-Toronto Arrows Game Overview

This was a game the Arrows needed to win. After losing to both the NOLA Gold and Rugby ATL, they needed to win this game. This is especially true against Atlanta, where they gave up a late try just before the game ended. As a result, Atlanta won the inaugural Fire and Ice Cup. This did not happen against Houston, which is a good sign. The Arrows this year have a tendency to win games in big margins. However, in many close games, they were not able to get the job done.

All 12 teams have played at least eight games as we now hit the mid-point of the 2021 MLR season. The Arrows has played nine games and have seven games left in their schedule. The top two teams from each conference make the 2021 MLR playoffs.

Toronto is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with four wins and five losses and with 22 points in total. It is important to note though that the other five teams in the Eastern Conference have played one less game than Toronto. This includes the New England Free Jacks, who has 21 points and Old Glory DC, who has 20 points. Both teams could leapfrog Toronto if results go their way next weekend. On the other hand, Toronto are only four points behind Eastern Conference leaders Atlanta. So, there is still some hope that Toronto can make the 2021 MLR playoffs.

The playoff hopes for Houston looks bleak. They are 13 points behind second-place Austin Gilgonis with a record of two wins and six losses. This is good enough to be fifth in the Western Conference and also have the second-worst record in all of MLR. They will need a spark quickly before their playoff hopes are dashed away.

Upcoming Games for both the Toronto Arrows and the Houston SaberCats

It is unfortunate that the Arrows cannot play in Toronto because of COVID-19. In 2019, they used their homestand to win all but one of their games to make the 2019 MLR playoffs in their inaugural season. They will not have home games in Canada though this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Toronto’s next game will be at Union Point Stadium on Saturday, May. 29. The game will be shown in Canada on TSN.ca/TSN App. The game can also be seen on NESN and The Rugby Network.

This is while the Sabercats will stay in Houston and host Old Glory DC at AVEVA Stadium against Old Glory DC. The game will take place on Saturday, May. 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will be shown on The Rugby Network, NBCSW, and AT&T SportsNet. A week later in May 29, they will travel to California to face the San Diego Legion at Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. That game will be shown on AT&T SportsNet, The Rugby Network, and Antenna TV. The game will take place on Saturday, May. 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

 

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