Rugby ATL defence helped them win 17-10 over Toronto Arrows

Toronto Arrows playing against Rugby ATL on April 2, 2022

The Rugby ATL defence helped them win this last weekend, in what ended up being a close game against Toronto.

The Arrows had trouble breaking through Atlanta’s defence. It was not just defence though, as Atlanta made some great individual and teamwork tries to win the game over their Fire and Ice Cup rivals.

Rugby ATL defence propel them to victory over Toronto Arrows

Three keys to the game

Rugby ATL’s defence for approximately 75 minutes, did not allow the Toronto Arrows to score a single point. There were two instances where the Arrows threatened but were not able to score.

  • In the 30-minute, the Arrows turned the ball over deep into Atlanta’s territory.
  • At one point in the match, the Arrows had approximately 20 straight phases with the ball in the second half but were unable to convert them to points.

The Arrows might have also been slow in their attack against their Fire and Ice Cup rivals. They were not fast enough and might be a bit too predictable for their rivals. Still, Atlanta was able to get the job done as the Arrows had their chances to score.

The Toronto Arrows lineout was not great in the first half

The Toronto Arrows lineout was not great, especially in the first half. In the first seven minutes of the game, they were 0/3 in lineout possessions.

This is what Mike Petri of The Rugby Network said about the Arrows early on:

“This Toronto 0/3 in these lineouts, missed opportunities. Look, they camped out in the Atlanta end, and so for the first six minutes of the game, they had all the territories, but they have not been able to do much with it, because they cannot secure these set pieces.”

The Arrows played positively and had chances to score, unfortunately for them they were a bit too predictable in their game against Atlanta and will need to improve on it for future games.

Rugby ATL was able to get past Toronto Arrows defence

Toronto Arrows defence played decently well as they only gave up 17 points. However, the difference in the game was Atlanta’s ability to get past the Arrows defence at points of the game with their speed and passing. Many of these chances often turned into points.

  • The sets of passes that started with Rugby ATL’s Johan Momsen were able to break through Toronto’s backline. The passes between Will Leonard and Faitala Talapusi were exquisite and Austin White finished off the fantastic team try for the team.
  • Former New Zealand Sevens player, Rewita Biddle, broke through the Arrows’ defence and got past several Toronto defenders to score a try.

It is important to note that Atlanta scored another try, which happened in the first half. However, it was pushing through the Arrows’ defence than speed and/or getting past players. Additionally, there was another play where Rugby ATL’s try was called off. Fred Henry-Ajoua passed the ball to Talapusi, who was able to finish off the play. Arrows Mitch Richardson instead was called for a high tackle and an Atlanta knock-on.

Other key factors: Toronto Arrows ‘never gave up’

READ MORE: 2023 Toronto Arrows MLR Season: Starting with playoff ambitions

Even when giving up the first 17 points, the Arrows did not give up hope. Richardson scored a try thanks to a terrific kick from Shane O’Leary and a quick pass from Ciaran Breen to get past Rugby ATL’s defence. O’Leary then kicked the ball to Sam Malcolm, who almost scored, but was unable to convert. The Arrows would convert the penalty, however, the game would end 17-10 in favour of the US-based franchise.

The Arrows now have lost five straight games to their Fire and Ice Cup rivals Rugby ATL. The last time Toronto defeated Atlanta was back in 2020 when the Fire and Ice Cup rivalry did not exist yet. The other storyline was Biddle scoring his first try for Rugby ATL and MLR. It was a storybook beginning for the 24-year-old, who got his MLR career started on the right foot. This game and league have also shown how important it is for Canadians, Americans, and even Internationals to play in MLR.

Other notable games and what is next for both Toronto and Atlanta

The other notable game that was played on February 17 was the NOLA Gold losing at home to the New England Free Jacks by a score of 36-12. The Gold was the only home team to lose in the opening weekend of MLR. The Chicago Hounds played their first MLR game in franchise history but lost 42-27 on the road against Old Glory DC. The other games involved the Seattle Seawolves defeating Rugby New York (nicknamed the Ironworkers) 25-11 and the San Diego Legion winning against the Utah Warriors 33-17.

The Arrows will travel to New York City to face the defending MLR Shield champions on February 26 at 3:00 p.m. ET. That game will be shown live on the Rugby Network and MSG. Canadian fans can also watch the game nationally on TSN4 at Memorial Field, MT in Vernon, New York.

This is while Rugby ATL plays on February 24 at 10:30 p.m. ET against the Seattle Seawolves at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington.


Photo Credit: Kyle Gilmor of the Toronto Arrows on April 2, 2022.