Arrows Dominate Glendale


Source: @Joseromelo via @TorontoArrows

“Our scrum dominated”

In just 3 words Mike Sheppard perfectly summed up the key to the Arrows 40-12 victory over the Glendale Raptors. The Arrows’ pack completely dominated the Raptors’ pack. The Arrows set piece was spectacular as the pack dominated scrums and lineouts. In open play, the Arrows pack was again far too much for the Raptors to handle in the rucks. The pack’s dominance opened up a lot of space and ultimately led to a number of tries. The Arrows would score 6 tires in the win to earn themselves a crucial bonus point. The Arrows received tries from Morgan Mitchell, Gaston Mieres (x2), Luke Campbell, Andrew Ferguson, and Tom Van Horne. The Arrows pack proved to be too much for Glendale, whose loss officially eliminates them from playoff contention.

The Arrows pack began to assert their dominance right from the opening kickoff. They handily won the first scrum of the match and Peter Milazzo had a few terrific takes in the lineout. In an attacking position, the Arrows executed a great lineout and set up the maul. Andrew Quattrin would carry it briefly, but it would be Morgan Mitchell who would plow his way through the Glendale defense for the opening try of the match just 5 minutes in. Seriously, Mitchell runs through people like the Juggernaut runs through walls. John Ryberg learned that first hand a few minutes later as Mitchell leveled hit with a huge hit. Unfortunately, Mitchell couldn’t quite wrap him up and Glendale was awarded the penalty. This would give them their first attacking opportunity of the match. Carlo De Nysschen would take advantage of another Arrows penalty as he tapped quickly and found a hole for a try of his own. Will Magie would hit the conversion and the Raptors would be up 7-5 after 12 minutes. At that point, the Arrows began to completely take over the game. The Arrows could sense their dominance in the scrum and Dan Moor began frequently opting for it off penalties. Straight off the set piece, Andrew Ferguson would find Gaston Mieres running a terrific line straight through the Glendale defense. Mieres would waltz around Chad London for the Arrows 2nd try of the match. “We practiced it really well during the week. Everybody knew his role. Where to go and were to be to get well positioned. That helps everything” Mieres said of the two plays he capitalized on. The Arrows scrum would create another opportunity for a try, but Leandro Leivas would be held up across the line. Of course, that results in another Arrows scrum. This time Guiseppe du Toit would be stopped on the line but Luke Campbell would follow it up and pick up his first MLR try. With 5 minutes remaining in the half, Ferguson would once again find Gaston Mieres with some space. Following a ruck, Mieres ran a perfect line and Ferguson sent him through a gaping hole in the Raptors defense. De Nysschen would give chase, but Mieres would extend for the corner and secure the double and a bonus point for the Arrows. The Arrows would head to halftime up 26-7.

The Raptors would show some signs of life to start the 2nd half. Magie sent a cheeky grubber kick behind the Arrows back line, but Ferguson made a terrific defensive play to prevent the grounding. Glendale would keep at it and have their best stretch of play in the match. They worked the ball across the field and Mika Kruse would dot it down in the corner to cut the lead to 26-12 at the 46-minute mark. The Arrows pack would continue their dominant ways as it became apparent that the Raptors had absolutely no answers for it. The Arrows would be picking up penalties and capitalizing on scoring opportunities all on the backs of the incredible work by the pack. After setting up Mieres for two tries, Ferguson decided it was his turn as he called his own number and dove in for the try. The forwards would continue to dominate and Tom Van Horne would muscle his way across the line for the Arrows 6th try of the match. Sam Malcolm would convert the kick and put the Arrows up 40-12. With the loss, the Raptors were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

The Arrows were buzzing after the win. “It was a great team effort. We controlled the game for 80 minutes”, said Mieres following the victory. The Arrows would walk away with their 6th straight win and 5 more points in an incredibly tight playoff race. The Arrows have been getting better and better as the season goes on and Sheppard believes that the club is peaking at the perfect moment of the season. “With any sport, it’s all about when you get hot. Right now, we’ve really found a good time to peak and gel together with all our players being together for the past 2 months. Confidence is at an all-time high and we’re really gelling. It showed today in our performance.”

And what a performance it was! Especially from the pack. The Arrows scrum was easily the story of this game. “We pushed them over. We got penalties every time we had our own scrum. When you have a dominant scrum and can force teams to take penalties like that it’s really hard to stop”, said Sheppard post-game. The scrum and the Arrows attack from the scrum seemed impossible for Glendale to defend. They simply had no answers for it and gave up plenty of penalties as a result. The Arrows were able to gain field position and put points on the board as a direct result from the scrum. It was a truly impressive display. “When we're really going well it starts all up front particularly in the front row and the boys in the engine room”, Dan Moor. Moor had high praise for the pack’s dominance in the set-piece and added that “When you have that platform it enables guys like Gaston Mieres to get on the outside of guys with a whole lot of going forward”. The pack was the driving force behind today’s victory and they showed why they are one of the best in the league.

Heading into this game we knew that the Glendale Raptors’ biggest scoring threats were John Ryberg, Harley Davidson, and Dylan Taikato-Simpson. Dan Moor stated before the game that the key to stopping them would be good width on defense and two-man tackles. The Arrows defense was phenomenal in this regard. Moor and Leivas did an excellent job shutting down the wings. They also got plenty of help from their forwards who lent a hand with the two-man tackles on numerous occasions. “It didn’t come down to one person making particular tackles. It was really team defence in terms of having two guys at all times on those outside threats” said Moor of the Arrow’s ability to contain Ryberg and Davidson. The team’s defensive effort was massive and the biggest threats for the Raptors were largely invisible for the duration of the game. The Arrows pack being as dominant as it was also helped shut down the Raptors wingers. The Raptors had a difficult time getting the ball to their wingers’ hands but when they did, they had nowhere to go.

Heading into this game we knew that the Glendale Raptors’ biggest scoring threats were John Ryberg, Harley Davidson, and Dylan Taikato-Simpson. Dan Moor stated before the game that the key to stopping them would be good width on defense and two-man tackles. The Arrows defense was phenomenal in this regard. Moor and Leivas did an excellent job shutting down the wings. They also got plenty of help from their forwards who lent a hand with the two-man tackles on numerous occasions. “It didn’t come down to one person making particular tackles. It was really team defence in terms of having two guys at all times on those outside threats” said Moor of the Arrow’s ability to contain Ryberg and Davidson. The team’s defensive effort was massive and the biggest threats for the Raptors were largely invisible for the duration of the game. The Arrows pack being as dominant as it was also helped shut down the Raptors wingers. The Raptors had a difficult time getting the ball to their wingers’ hands but when they did, they had nowhere to go.

There were a number of players who had great games for the Arrows. Mieres scored two tries and had a number of other terrific carries. Mieres seemed to always find space between Glendale defenders and really wreaked havoc with ball in hand. Moor was great in defence and with ball in hand as well. Milazzo had a handful of terrific lineout takes and was a force at the breakdown. Again, everyone in the pack was unreal today. With all of these great performances, I wanted to highlight scrumhalf Andrew Ferguson. This was Ferguson’s best game of the year. He made two exceptional passes to set up both of Mieres’ tries. Mieres ran great lines on those plays and Ferguson’s passes were accurate and allowed Mieres to receive the ball with pace. Ferguson would call his own number later cross over for a try of his own in the 2nd half. He would earn a lot of style points on the Superman dive as well. It wasn’t just Ferguson’s offense that stood out. He made a number of great plays on defense. One such play was when he prevented Magie from pouncing on a grubber kick and prevented a try. Ultimately, Ferguson had excellent ball distribution throughout the match and was able to find space with his kicks which allowed him to become a critical factor in the game.

This was a chaotic weekend in Major League Rugby. The Toronto Arrows beat the Glendale Raptors, Rugby United New York beat the NOLA Gold, and the Seattle Seawolves tied the Utah Warriors. This leaves us with a 4-way tie for 2nd in the MLR standings. San Diego sits alone at the top with 57 points. RUNY, Toronto, Seattle, and NOLA are all tied with 53. Ultimately, this leaves the Arrows in great shape for the playoffs. For the Arrows it’s simple: beat RUNY and they are in the playoffs. The Arrows have been playing must-win games since they returned home from their 8-game road trip to start the year. Next Sunday will be no different. We are witnessing one of the greatest playoff races in sports history. Heading into the final week of the season 5 teams have a chance at 1st overall. One of those 5 teams won’t even make the playoffs. It’s incredible! I can’t wait until next Sunday to see how it all plays out.

The Toronto Arrows match vs the Glendale Raptors was the Rugby vs Cancer’s #RuckCancer game. The Arrows wore special #RuckCancer kit that was auctioned off at the game. Ultimately, over $8,000 was raised for cancer research.

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