The Toronto Arrows Road Games: Top Five Games from 2019-20

Dan Moor scores against the Houston Sabercats at Sam Boyd Stadium in Major League Rugby Vegas Weekend
Spread the love

The Toronto Arrows road games have been more than half of all Arrows games. This is particularly true in the 2020 and 2021 MLR seasons in Toronto. However, the Arrows showed an ability to win a lot on the road in 2020. Something that was seen in flashes of 2019.

Remember, like the top five Arrows home games, this article is an opinion piece. Everyone has their own opinion on what the best five road games are. However, if one wants to comment and give their own opinion, one can do so on LWOS Boards.

Toronto Arrows Road Games: The Best Five in Franchise History

  1. NOLA Gold vs. Arrows (First-Ever MLR Game for the Toronto Arrows – January. 26, 2019)

The first-ever MLR game for the Arrows took place on January 26 in New Orleans at Gold Stadium. The Arrows trailed through most of the game. A big reason for that is giving up two late tries in the first half scored by Eric Howard and Con Foley of the NOLA Gold. Dan Moor (pictured above) of the Arrows helped his team cut the deficit with tries in both the 45 and 58-minute.

He also had a penalty try in the 71-minute of play, which reduced New Orleans’ lead to five points. However, the Gold quickly responded with a 73-minute try by Tristan Blewell. The Arrows would get another try in the 76-minute, but end up losing the game 36-31 at New Orleans.

Yes, the Arrows lost a heartbreaker against the Gold. However, at the same time, this game was a huge landmark in Arrows’ history. This was the Arrows’ first-ever MLR game. Because of that, this game ended up in the Arrows’ top five road games of all time. This is what Marc Stcherbina said to Scott Alexander’s question on the competitiveness of the Arrows according to USMLR:

“They have Scott and a lot of international experience a lot of Canadian national players in their team and they’ve had a fantastic preseason as well very challenging very successful: five wins one draw one loss. And they played against a lot of MLR teams as well so they’re well prepared for this match today.”
The team was founded as the Ontario Arrows in 2017 with a target to join MLR in 2019. In the spring of 2018, the Arrows faced MLR sides including the Houston SaberCats and the Utah Warriors. They also faced Rugby United New York, which was their MLR expansion cousin in 2019.
  1. Rugby ATL vs. Arrows (March. 1, 2020)

The Arrows scored the first try of the game with Leandro Leivas in the 14-minute of play. However, Rugby ATL (Atlanta) clawed their way to take the lead late in the first half. This included Kurl Coleman scoring two penalties in the game. Atlanta would then take the lead late in the first half with an Alex Maughan try. As a result, Atlanta took the 11-7 lead at the end of the first half.

However, the Arrows would have a strong start to the second half. They would take over the lead with a Tomás de la Vega try in the 56-minute. Leivas would then get his second try of the game shortly afterwards in the 62-minute. Atlanta would make it close with a 70-minute try by Neethling Gericke. However, in the end, the Arrows would get the last laugh. Gastón Mieres would score the try in the 80-minute to win the game 18-28 at Life University Running Eagles Stadium in Marietta, Georgia.

Ironically, this would be the final game for both teams in 2020. Shortly afterwards, the season was cancelled because of COVID-19. Lastly, the Arrows had started their home games in Georgia this year thanks to the help of Rugby ATL.

  1. Seattle Seawolves vs. Arrows (February. 22, 2020)

This was a particularly important and impressive win for the Arrows. In 2019, the Arrows were eliminated by the Seawolves in Seattle in the playoffs at Starfire Sports Complex. The Arrows would play at the exact same venue less than a year later against the Seawolves.

Sam Malcolm would start the game with a penalty scored for the Arrows in the fourth minute. The Seawolves would take the lead back with a Matthew Turner try in the 25-minute. Brock Staller then made a conversion in the 26-minute for the Seawolves to take the 7-3 lead. This lead however was short-lived. Moor would convert a penalty in the 29-minute to cut Seattle’s lead to 7-6. Then in the 33rd-minute, Moor converted one of his first two tries of the game in the 33-minute and Sam Malcolm made the conversion. As a result, the Arrows had a 7-13 lead and would never look back.

There are two reasons the Arrows won this game 17-39. One was that Seattle only had one penalty and Toronto had six penalties scored. This showed the Arrows had better discipline than the Seawolves and it played a big role in the result of the game. The second thing is that the Arrows scored one more try than the Seawolves.

  1. Austin Elite vs. Arrows (First-Ever Road Win for the Arrows – February. 8, 2019)

This was an exciting game that went to the wire. The Arrows would score the first try in the 17-minute thanks to an Avery Oitomen try. Marcelo Torrealba then had a try in the 39-minute and Timothée Guillimin made the conversion in the 40-minute and also a penalty conversion in the 21-minute. The game would go back and forth. As a result, the Elite took a 10-5 lead at halftime. Both teams in the second half started by scoring one penalty each. Kolby Francis would score a try in the 52-minute for the Arrows.

The conversion was good, and the Arrows led 13-15. Malcolm would extend that lead with a 55-minute penalty scored. However, the Elites would not give up, scoring two penalties thanks to Guillimin and Mickaël Romera. The Elite now had a small 19-18 lead over the Arrows. However, Moor, one of the Arrows’ best players, was able to step up.

He scored a try in the 74-minute to give the Arrows the 19-23 lead. This lead would result in a win against Austin, showing the world that the Arrows can win the close games against MLR opponents. A big part of Toronto’s win was not allowing the Elite to score a single try in the second half.

  1. San Diego Legion vs. Arrows (March. 10, 2019)

This game was a classic and is right now the most significant win in Arrow’s history. Part of what made this game so exciting was how much Toronto trailed after the first half. The first half was almost all San Diego. In the first half, San Diego scored two tries and conversions each and made one penalty. This includes the first-minute try by Jordan Manihera and a 19-minute try by Psalm Wooching. The other points were scored by Joe Pieterson including the drop goal in the second half. Malcolm had the only points in the first half for the Arrows as he only had one penalty scored.

As a result, the Arrows trailed 17-3 at the end of the first half. However, the second half was the complete opposite. Oitomen started the second half with two tries in the 51 and 54-minute play with Malcolm making both conversions. Just like that, the Arrows cut the deficit to three points. Toronto would then score another try in the 64-minute as Mike Sheppard stepped up. This gave the Arrows its first-ever lead in the game. The conversion was made, and the Arrows lead 20-24. The Arrows would add one more penalty to end the game with a 20-27 win over the Legion.

What was so impressive about this win was the Arrow’s ability to keep the Legion scoreless in the second half. Furthermore, San Diego was a very tough opponent in 2019. They finished with the best record in MLR and lost in the MLR Finals to the Seattle Seawolves.

Overview of the Top Five Toronto Arrows Road Games from 2019-20

This list is of the top five Toronto Arrows road games from the 2019 and 2020 MLR seasons. The Arrows have started and ended their season in the U.S.

The standouts from the 2021 MLR season include Lucas Rumball, who played very well defensively, and young players like Kobe Faust.

The Arrows struggled in the 2021 MLR season, having trouble closing out matches or holding leads like the game against the NOLA Gold. However, a part of that was that Toronto had to play all their home games in Marietta, Georgia. This is because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit though should be given to Toronto and their ability to never give up, seen with the Arrows’ win against Old Glory DC on July 4.

Next year should be a better year for the Arrows because of increased vaccination rates. They are most likely going to have the freedom to play home games next year. The MLR season will start next year either in January or February (like in 2019 and 2020). However, the Arrows will most likely not play any games at home until April/May, because of the weather in Canada. Expect more Toronto Arrows road games in the new year, and for the franchise to again challenge in the Eastern Conference.

Look forward to more coverage of Major League Rugby in 2022, and join the conversation in our LWOS Boards forum site here.

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images