Arrows Come From Behind To End Losing Streak
Source: Paris Malone/Old Glory DC
The Toronto Arrows found themselves down 14-10 to Old Glory DC at halftime. The Arrows did well to control the territory thanks to Tayler Adams’ boot, but they were seldom able to capitalize on their chances. A big start to the second half was needed. The second half did not start well either. Ciaran Hearn had a nasty behind the back pass to Dylan Taikato-Simpson that opened up a gap in the Arrows’ defense.
This would lead to a Cory Daniel try and the Arrows were in desperate need of something to shift the momentum.
With a lineout about 8m inside the Arrows half, Tomás de la Vega tapped Jack McRogers’ thro down to Andrew Ferguson. Ferguson stepped to avoid the first two Old Glory defenders and took off. Ferguson kicked over the top of Sam Cusano and then beat Danny Tusitala in the foot race to score a try of the year candidate. The try (and conversion) cut the lead down to 21-17. Ferguson’s try completely swung the momentum of the match and the flood gates opened.
First Joaquín Tuculet set up Guiseppe du Toit for a try just 5 minutes after Ferguson’s tally. Moments later, du Toit fancied a try assist of his own. He left a flat ball for Sam Malcolm to run on to that carved through the Old Glory defense. Malcolm dashed 40m for his first career MLR try. The Arrows quickly found themselves up 31-21 in a matter of 8 minutes. Adams would go on to add another penalty and the Arrows would claim a 34-28 victory.
With the ending of the losing streak came a number of standout performances. Ferguson was brilliant throughout the match. Not only did he score the highlight reel try that changed the momentum, but he had the Arrows only try of the opening half as well. It was a great read off the back of a ruck and he did well to slip by Mungo Mason’s tackle attempt. Ferguson did well with his boot as he aided Adams in controlling the territory in the first half, and distributed the ball effectively throughout the match.
Adams was spectacular with his boot. In the opening half the Arrows had the lion's share of the territory. Old Glory began racking up the carries and the metres, but thanks to Adams, they mostly did this in their own half. Adams was critical in the Arrows’ second half surge. He epitomized the phrase “take a hit to make a play” on du Toit’s try. He made a brilliant pass to Tuculet for a line break just as Jason Robertson delivered one of the bigger hits of the match.
Then it was the set piece at the scrum where he linked up with du Toit just before Malcolm’s try. He won’t get credit for it because this is rugby, but ultimately, Adams’ had two hockey assists in this game. For stats that do count, Adams was 3/3 on conversions and 2/3 on penalties for 12 total points off his boot.
The entire back row put in a solid performance. De la Vega was his usual monstrous self in this game. De la Vega was a menace at the breakdown as he created turnovers and earned penalties. The Arrows did well to turn many of those into points. Reinforcements Ollie Nott and Ronan Foley shined as well. Foley picked up a breakdown steal of his own. Foley certainly is making a case for his inclusion on the 2022 squad.
Mike Sheppard and Jack McRogers also put in big shifts as they demonstrated great work rates and made plenty of tackles. McRogers had a huge try-saver as he forced an Apisai Naikatini knock on when Naikatini was reaching for the line. Sheppard ended the game with a huge hit on Mason to dislodge the ball.
The Arrows were missing 13 players to international duty for this match. Mark Winokur has done well to bring in some reinforcements to end the season and it’s great to see many of the depth players step up and deliver a victory on Sunday. This has been a long, difficult, and challenging season. It would be great to have it end on some positive notes.
The longest road trip in history will come to an end next week as the Arrows close out their year against the New England Free Jacks.