Source: @AtlRugby via Twitter
The Arrows headed to the sheds at halftime trailing Rugby ATL 11-7. The Arrows certainly were not playing poorly, but Rugby ATL proved to be a worthy opponent as they looked to extend their unbeaten streak. After the break, Andrew Quattrin and Lucas Rumball entered the match and the Arrows set piece looked instantly improved. Rob Brouwer soon clocked in for his first shift of 2020 and the scrum began to thoroughly dominate.
The Arrows scrum became the platform for all three of the Arrows 2nd half tries, as they steamrolled their way to a 28-18 victory over RATL. With the win, the Arrows improve to 4-0-0 on the year and extend their regular season winning streak to 11 games.
This match featured the two best defenses in MLR and it was on display throughout the first half. Both teams struggled to gain constant pressure or to generate a lot of scoring opportunities. Much of the first half ended up being a kicking duel between Tayler Adams and Kurt Coleman. The two flyhalves exchanged kicks frequently with both teams coming out on top in different exchanges. Ultimately, the territory and possession would be in flux throughout the match as both teams’ defenses stood strong.
The set piece would result in both first half tries. Steven Ng and Tomas de la Vega gave Andrew Ferguson a clean lineout ball to work with. The Arrows wingers have been extremely active so far this season. Leandro Leivas stalked the play, methodically working his way across the pitch, looking for his chance to jump in. Leivas would see that hole open up and Ben LeSage would give him an inside ball as Leivas exploded through the hole. A final stiff arm to Duncan van Schalkwyk and the grounding capped off the opening try of the match.
After going up 7-0, the Arrows discipline would allow Coleman to slot two penalties to cut the lead to 7-6. With another penalty in Coleman’s range, RATL opted for the corner with just a few minutes remaining in the half. It would be the correct decision as Johan Momsen reeled in the throw from Cullen Maughan and RATL began their drive. They would push across the line and Maughan would be the man that dotted down for the try and the halftime lead.
The tide of the game turned in the second half. Coming out of the sheds, Lucas Rumball and Andrew Quattrin entered the game. The set piece with these two in the match saw instant improvement. Quattrin settled down a lineout that was struggling in the first half. Johan Momsen and Matt Heaton created plenty of issues and Ng had trouble connecting on his throws. Quattrin instantly remedied that, with Rumball also replacing Peter Milazzo as a target.
The first scrum with Quattrin and Rumball was dominant. Momsen would force a LeSage knock-on deep in RATL territory. After seeing the first scrum RATL brought in Chance Wenglewski to aid their efforts. Cole Keith and Paul Ciulini made quick work of him from the tighthead side of the scrum and the Arrows got the ball back. This would lead to a de la Vega try to put the Arrows back in the lead.
The Arrows scrum dominance would be the story of the 2nd half. With a front row of Brouwer, Quattrin, and Keith, the Arrows pack wreaked havoc on RATL. RATL would continue to bring on substitutions in hopes of finding a combination that would slow down the Arrows. None would come as the Arrows frequently put RATL on skis.
The Arrows scrum would be the platform for all three 2nd half tries as they secured the bonus point win. Manuel Diana would pick and go from the 8-man position and run to the right. Ferguson made a great play to reverse it to Adams and he slung a pass to Leivas. Leivas displayed incredible skill to reel the pass in, tiptoe the line and ground the ball. The final try was a lot less flashy, but a perfectly executed play.
After a massive Coleman hit forces a Riley Di Nardo knock-on, the Arrows scrum obliterates RATL to regain possession. The next scrum would set the platform for a great set piece play that saw Gaston Mieres waltz in for a try at fulltime. The Arrows South American contingent showed up in a big way, securing all 4 Arrows tries.
The dominance of the Arrows set piece did allow them to definitely win this match. The lone RATL try came following a massive line break from Kurt Coleman. He would pass to Viliami Helu, who had hopes of dotting down in the corner. Ferguson would put an end to that with a massive hit, that he made no attempt to wrap on.
The ref reached for the yellow card instantly. The ensuing lineout resulted in another big maul from RATL and Johannes Gericke would get credit for the try. Ferguson’s yellow is now the Arrows fourth card in 3 matches. De la Vega and Mike Sheppard (one game remaining on his suspension) were sent off late against Houston, Diana picked up a yellow card against Seattle, and now Ferguson. Certainly, this is a trend that the Arrows would like to put an end to immediately.
Cole Keith earns the Layman’s Sports Man of the Match Award. Keith put in an incredible full 80-minute shift. Throughout those 80 minutes Keith was dominant in the scrum. Not only in the 2nd half when a handful of the Arrows’ typical starters returned, but he was terrific in the first half as well. Keith was able to earn a handful of RATL scrum penalties throughout the match.
Keith and his second row Ciulini were able to generate a monstrous push in each scrum. Keith also built on his performance against Seattle, by once again demonstrating a strong workrate. Keith has played his two best games as an Arrow in the past two weeks.
Ben LeSage also had a great game in the backs. In addition to setting up Leivas for his first try, LeSage was outstanding in defense. LeSage made a number of key tackles and had a phenomenal steal when he ripped the ball right out of Marno Redelinghuys’ hands. LeSage has been near the top of the backs in many defensive categories. His strong play is going a long way to making the Arrows the number 1 ranked defense in MLR.
One final note: Captain Dan Moor made a tackle on Coleman. After the tackle, Moor was favouring his left knee. Moor looked like he would attempt to stay in the game, but he was replaced by Mitch Richardson in the 65th minute. Moor could be seen walking with an icepack around his knee following the match. Moor’s status will likely be updated in the Arrows injury report this week.
With a quick turnaround to play Colorado on Friday, the Arrows may not rush him back right away if the injury warrants some time off.
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