Arrows Downed By Warriors, Fall To 0-2
Source: Utah Warriors
In the 70th minute, former UBC Thunderbird Fraser Hurst waited patiently behind the Utah Warriors’ maul about 15m from the halfway line. The Arrows defence shifted and Hurst spotted a gap between the maul and Andrew Ferguson. Hurst exploded through that gap and scampered 65m flying by two more Arrows’ defenders for a spectacular first career MLR try! It earned try of the week honours and is perhaps the best first career try the MLR has ever seen.
If you are a Canadian rugby fan, this was likely the highlight of the match for you. Hurst’s try put the Warriors up 39-17 with ten minutes to play in their decisive victory. Manuel Diana would add a late try on the 80th minute (converted with a Taylor Adams drop goal) to bring the final score to 39-24.
In addition to Hurst, the Warriors received tries from Lance Williams, Mikey Te’o, and two from Sama Malolo while Hagen Schulte added 14 points off the boot. The Arrows try scorers were Taylor Adams, Jason Higgins, and Diana. Adams added 9 points from his boot.
Schulte set the tone early as he highlighted the consequences of taking a penalty in his mammoth range. The Arrows found themselves on the wrong end of a scrum and Utah earned the penalty. Schulte then slotted a 55m penalty to open the scoring. This would ultimately, be the theme of the game.
The Utah Warriors made the Arrows’ pay for their lack of discipline throughout the game. In the first half, Schulte slotted two penalties to give Utah an early 6-0 lead. An Arrows offside led to Malolo crashing through countless Arrows’ defenders following the ensuing lineout for the game’s first try. Guiseppe du Toit got dinged for not rolling away. Then Mike Sheppard was called for playing the man in the air on that lineout, effectively giving the Warriors a second crack at the try.
Williams made no mistake the second time. Lucas Rumball was called for being off his feet which led to Te’o’s try on a well-worked lineout play. Even the 65m run from Hurst was the lineout after Adams was called offside as Joaquín Tuculet sent a grubber through that could have been a try.
Schulte made the most of each penalty with some pinpoint kicks to get the Warriors as deep into Arrow’s territory as possible. Ultimately, 32 of the Warriors’ 39 points came in the immediate aftermath (within one minute) of an Arrows penalty. The lone exception was Malolo’s second try which occurred following strong counterattack play from Utah after Aston Fortuin caused a turnover.
Schulte’s other big contribution was his ability to control the territory with his boot throughout the match. He did more than just maximize the territory gained off a penalty. He also had a few booming clearance kicks that flipped the pitch when the Arrows were pressing.
The Arrows, of course, made some of Utah’s penalties count too. Adams’ try followed a Franco van den Berg not releasing penalty. Diana’s try came after ill-discipline and reckless tackling began to plague Utah late in the game. Josh Whippy received a red card and Joe Mano a yellow, both for dangerous tackles. The Arrows' final try came with that two-man advantage.
The Warriors handed the Arrows’ a rare defeat in the scrum throughout the game. With the suspension to Gastón Cortes, Pat Lynott started at loosehead and Cole Keith started at tighthead. The scrum came under pressure early; however, it became better as the match progressed. Tyler Rowland was subbed on for Lynott in the 54th minute and Keith moved back to the loosehead side. The front row of Keith, Andrew Quattrin, and Rowland seemed to have more success.
I wonder if that will be the option next week as the club awaits Cortes’ return. The lineout struggled to click for the second game in a row as well. Fortuin was able to steal a few and a few others were simply untidy or didn’t connect.
To circle back to the original point as well, Malolo, Williams, Te’o, and Hurst’s tries all followed lineouts. That being said, the lineout is probably the most common way MLR teams score tries. Which makes it that much more important to limit the opportunities.
Despite the loss, there were some positives in the game. The two Arrows tries in quick succession from Adams and Jason Higgins showed gave us a glimpse of what the attack is capable of when they get going. Similarly, Utah’s defence was scrambling on Adams’ called back try.
The back row is playing great. Tomás de la Vega, Lucas Rumball, and Manuel Diana were three of the Arrows' best players. They seem to never miss a tackle, have immense work rates, and all had some powerful carries throughout the match.
This game marks the first time in Arrows’ history that the club has ever lost back-to-back games. The Arrows will look to end that streak next Saturday when they visit the nation’s capital to battle Old Glory DC.