The LA Giltinis gets their first 2022 MLR season win at Starlight Stadium

LA Giltinis player Marco Fepulea'i warms up before the game on July 10, 2021
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LANGFORD, BC – The LA Giltinis trailed after the end of the first half at Starlight Stadium. However, thanks to a spectacular second half, they were able to win the game 31-16. Even more remarkable was their ability to not allow the Arrows to score a single point in the second half.

LA Giltinis gets the important win at Starlight Stadium

Three keys to the game

Angus Cottrell played a critical role in LA Giltinis’ win

Credit should be given to the LA Giltinis to get back into the game after giving up an early try, as they did not look down. They went straight for the attack. Andrew Tuala immediately put on the pressure with his speed to put pressure on the defence. As a result, in the 18-minute, Australian Angus Cottrell found an opening and scored LA’s first try in British Columbia.

Then, after the Arrows converted two penalties, the Giltinis again responded. Against a stingy Arrows defence, Goodard was able to make a good run to get near the goal line. Cottrell then got the ball and got his second try of the game.

LA Giltinis started the second half strong

The Giltinis stole the ball on the 42-minute thanks to Tuala. They did not give the Arrows much room to attack. Then in the 47-minute, Will Chambers scored thanks to terrific team passing to find the open man.

Then in the 71-minute, as Hanco Germishuys passed the ball to Harrison Goodard, he made a terrific run and was untouched by the Arrows defence. Los Angeles was in control of the second half. This was partly because the Arrows turned the ball a lot in the second half. However, it also had to do with Los Angeles breaking through Toronto’s defence in the second half. Something Los Angeles had trouble doing in the first half of this game.

LA Giltinis was solid defensively

In the 51-minute, the Giltinis faced its first adversity in the second half when they committed a penalty. They then had to defend for 10 minutes after Jordan Trainor got a yellow card in the 53-minute. Then in the 54-minute, New Zealand rugby player, Marco Fepulea’i (pictured above), made an interception from a lineout as Djustice Sears-Duru got the ball. That defensive play was crucial as Los Angeles would score a try in the 59-minute.

The try was scored after an Arrows player failed to catch the ball. Will Chambers put pressure on the ball? Nathan Den Hoedt got the ball, and he passed it to Germishuys for the try in the 59-minute. The conversion was complete and the Giltinis would end up winning the game. The Giltinis played well defensively, like when the Giltinis made a good defensive play, forcing the Arrows player, Lolani Faleiva, to commit a knock-on. Then the Arrows committed a turnover in the 77-minute.

The Giltinis need to work on their discipline, as they got two yellow cards. However, Los Angeles got the win thanks to a dominant second-half performance.

The Toronto Arrows returns to Canada for the first time since 2019

Arrows’ captain, Mike Sheppard, scored the first try on Canadian soil in MLR since 2019. It was a smart try as Sheppard blocked a Giltinis kick and scored the try. Unfortunately, the Arrows made a lot of mistakes in this game, turning over the ball a lot, which played a role in their loss and not scoring a single point in the second half. However, there were some positives to the game. One is that this is the first home game since the Arrows defeated Rugby United New York in 2019.

It was also significant as this is the first of many possible home games outside of Toronto. The game was played at Starlight Stadium in Langford, BC (Langford is part of Greater Victoria). This is what Toronto Arrows co-founder Bill Webb said about this according to Cleve Dheensaw of the Times Columnist:

“We’re trying to build a brand across the country in rugby, much like the Raptors and Blue Jays have in basketball and baseball with their national followings,” said Webb, president, majority-owner and co-founder of the Arrows.

There were two Canadians playing for the Giltinis in this game. The two Canadians were Ben LeSage and Sears-Duru, the former played the last two seasons with Toronto. As seen above, LeSage felt strange being cheered against the team he used to play for.

For rugby fans unaware of the sports landscape in Canada, the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian teams in the NBA and MLB. The Raptors in the past hosted the NBA Canada Series, which is a pre-season series between the Raptors and another NBA team. They have played in cities like Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Montreal. Also, the Toronto Blue Jays in recent years have played preseason games in Montreal. However, that might also be because Montreal fans want to see a team again in MLB.

Yes, there are minor pro leagues in baseball, and two known professional basketball leagues in Canada. However, it cannot be compared to the level of play seen in both the NBA and MLB.

Current standings in MLR after LA Giltinis win at Starlight Stadium

Remember, it is still early in the season, but the Arrows will need to improve their season record. They are one of three teams winless in the Eastern Conference as they head into week three. The Arrows will travel to New Orleans at The Gold Mine. There, they will go up against another winless team, the NOLA Gold at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, February. 19, 2021. Toronto has never won against the NOLA Gold since coming into MLR in 2019. The game will be shown on The Rugby Network, TSN, and YurView. The game will also be shown in Canada on TSN.

The Arrows will then travel to Leesburg to face Old Glory DC. The game will take place at Segra Field at 3:00 p.m. ET on February 26. The game will be shown on The Rugby Network, TSN, and NBCSW. Old Glory DC is also winless right now and is the only team in the Eastern Conference with a worse points differential than Toronto. This is also the first two of six straight road games for the team. This is because of the cold weather in Canada. If the Arrows can get some results on the road, it will be beneficial as they start having home games from April onwards. Seven of Toronto’s last eight MLR season games will be played at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Meanwhile, the defending MLR champions, the LA Giltinis have one win and one loss after the win at Starlight Stadium will now travel home. They will host the unbeaten New England Free Jacks side at Los Angeles Coliseum. The game will take place at 6:00 p.m. ET on February 27. The game will be shown on The Rugby Network.

 

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