Rugby New York wins thriller as a positive start and a loose Arrows defence in the first half played a big role in shaping the result.
Rugby New York wins thriller in the Toronto Arrows home opener
Three keys to the game
Full Game Summary:#RNY was able to break through the Arrows' defence.#ArrowsUp made some key mistakes that could have changed the game.
Rugby New York had most of the possession and scoring opportunities in the last 10 minutes of the game.#TORvNY | 27-29 | #MLR2023
— Raheem (@bashirra) April 8, 2023
Rugby New York had a positive start to both halves
The first scores in both halves of the game happened because of the Arrows’ loose defence.
- Rugby New York scored the first 10 points of the game. The try scored by Tei Walden was scored thanks to the play of Jack Heighton and former Toronto Wolfpack player, Quinn Ngawati.
- In the 44-minute, Nate Brakeley scored a try as he received a pass from Nick Feakes to score the try.
Rugby New York also scored a try late in the first half as Kaleb Geiger scored a try and the conversion was good. These tries set the tone for the defending champions and even though the Arrows made the game close, they never led in their season opener at York Lions Stadium.
Toronto Arrows did not take advantage of their scoring opportunities
The Arrows really played well in parts of the second half and took advantage of New York City’s lack of discipline. They got back into the game as New York City received a yellow card, but there were two instances where they could have gotten more points.
- Sam Malcolm missed two conversions in the second half.
- Arrows had a great chance to score in the 56-minute as Lolani Faleiva and Mike Sheppard got deep in New York City’s zone, but they accidentally kicked the ball over the line and the chance was lost.
It is harsh, but even with the Arrows earning two bonus points, they still only have one win in seven games, which is something they will need to change.
Rugby New York had a lot of possession and scoring opportunities late in the game
Rugby New York pressured a lot and almost scored in these two instances:
- Toronto made a fantastic defensive play with Shane O’Leary, Will Grant and Malcolm held off a Rugby New York player from scoring a try in the 67-minute.
- Toronto held up New York City in the 72-minute. Arrows got the ball back.
To credit the Arrows, they played great defence at the end to keep themselves in the game. The problem though was that they did not get many attacks going within that timeframe and maybe even a bit earlier than that.
Other Factors: D’Shawn Bowen and Rugby New York’s Lack of Discipline
First MLR start, first MLR try for hometown kid D'Shawn Bowen 👏👏#ArrowsUp pic.twitter.com/MAm6XHeF7H
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) April 8, 2023
D’Shawn Bowen scored three tries for the Arrows to keep themselves in the game. His first two tries were probably the best. The first try was a fantastic team try as Faleiva stole the ball late in his zone and it resulted in a Bowen try. The second try was a fantastic individual try where the Mississauga native got past many of the Rugby New York defenders.
On TSN, Georgia Stone of Major League Rugby interviewed Bowen and what it means to play in Toronto:
“I feel amazing. It feels great to play in front of my hometown and my family and friends. Yeah, honestly, the feeling is unbelievable.”
Finally, there was his third try, where O’Leary kicked the ball to Bowen, who used his speed to score his third try of the game. Lucas Rumball was the other player who scored for the Arrows.
Discipline is something Rugby New York does need to improve on. It played a role in the Arrows getting back into the game. They had one yellow card and arguably could have gotten another yellow or red card in the game. Still, New York City was able to get the win and improve its record to four wins and two losses.
Lastly, this is the first time that the Arrows had two straight home openers in the MLR season in its club’s history. Something that is significant and also shows that the team is just starting to grow and make an impact in Canada’s financial centre:
READ MORE: Toronto Arrows home opener is on April 8 desperate for a win
What this means for both teams and playoff implications
Absolutely THRILLING Week 8#MLR2023 | @Oval3_game pic.twitter.com/DJvQWoPfrU
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) April 9, 2023
This result means that the Arrows fall to one win and six losses. However, they do get two bonus points as they scored four tries and kept the game within seven points. The Arrows now play next to host the New England Free Jacks at 6:00 p.m. ET on April 15 before ending their three-game homestand with a game at 4:00 p.m. ET on April 23 at York Lions Stadium against the Seattle Seawolves. This is while New York City moves up to second place and avoid having the same record as the NOLA Gold and Rugby ATL.
On TSN, Stone of Major League Rugby interviewed Tim Matthews, vice president and general manager of the Arrows, on what the fans bring to the game:
“It’s everything you could feel the energy in the build-up to this week. You know, everyone’s here with family and friends and for the Ontario guys, it really is home, you know, playing in front of the clubs that they grew up playing for and the kids here. it’s been a special week to come home.”
This is while New York City continues to play on the road as they visit US’s capital at Segra Field to face Old Glory DC. That game will take place on Sunday, April 16. They will then host the Houston SaberCats on April 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET at Segra Field.
Photo Credit: Sam Buschbeck of the Toronto Arrows RFC on April 8, 2023.