Arrows Notch Historic Win Over Seawolves
Toronto Arrows fans will be campaigning for every game to start at 10:30am! The Arrows struck first and often as they steamrolled the two-time defending champions. The 52-7 win sets a new record for the largest margin of victory in an MLR game! Tayler Adams found Joaquín Tuculet who dashed through a gaping hole in the Seawolves’ defence for the game’s opening try just 3 minutes into the game.
Ben LeSage, Ross Braude, Pat Parfrey, Jack McRogers, Jason Higgins, and Gastón Cortes added tries of their own while Adams was a perfect 6/6 with the boot (5 conversions, 1 penalty) on route to the record-setting victory. Mike Shepherd answered with a try for Seattle in the 53rd minute that was converted by Ben Cima for the Seawolves only points on the day.
Nearly everything went right for the Toronto Arrows on Saturday morning. The Seawolves looked like they barely got their morning coffee in them before it was already 17-0 just 16 minutes into the game. A 7:30am start may have been a tough ask of the defending champs. The Arrows were able to break down the Seawolves’ defence through the forwards then using the backs to exploit all the opportunities created.
On multiple tries, the forwards ran perfect lines to draw in the Seattle defenders allowing Adams or Braude to find a teammate in a prime position to slice through a hole in the defence. McRogers and Ciulini set the tone by sucking in the Seattle centres allowing Tuculet to trot in for the match’s opening try.
Support lines would be key to the Arrows’ success throughout the match. Time and time again, the Arrows’ ball carriers were able to get an offload away. The brilliant support directly contributed to multiple tries and genuinely shined with the Braude and McRogers try. Both tries were particularly well-crafted plays of the set-piece lineout. On Braude’s try, LeSage’s linebreak was quickly followed up by Tuculet who had Mieres coming all the way across the pitch to be in support, Braude was there for the final offload from Mieres.
For McRogers’ try, it was Tuculet who runs a perfect line as the Seattle defence tries to get set following the first post-lineout phase. Tuculet immediately has Montero and McRogers in support of the try. The Arrows backline was playing some champagne rugby on Saturday and this is easily the best the attack has looked all season.
Another great thing about those two tries was that they began with the lineout. The Arrows’ lineout has struggled throughout the start of the season but looked significantly improved on the weekend. Jack McRogers hit his targets frequently, with Tomás de la Vega being the most frequently used recipient of McRogers’ throws. Paul Ciulini and debutant Mason Flesch also had their share of lineout takes. On the defensive side of the lineout, Flesch managed to pick up his first pro lineout steal and otherwise wreak havoc on the Seawolves lineout.
Ultimately, the improvement in the lineout was great to see.
Braude had his best game in his young Arrows’ career. The try is certainly the highlight, but his overall game was fantastic. Braude used his box kicks to perfection. Each kick was well placed and brilliant kick chases from LeSage, Montero, Mieres, and Tuculet put the Seattle back three and eightman Riekert Hattingh under plenty of pressure. Often the Arrows were able to get the ball back either by regathering it or through forcing a knock-on.
The record-setting performance obviously means that many players had great performances. Tuculet, McRogers, Braude, Montero, de la Vega, LeSage, Parfrey, and Adams all stood out. Rumball of course was in that mix as well. However, for many people watching the man of the match was J.P. Doyle. The former Premiership referee was a breath of fresh air in how he officiated the match. His dialogue with the players was excellent and even funny at moments.
A funny official isn’t necessarily a requirement, but it certainly adds to the entertainment value of the games.
Doyle had command of the game and it became clear rather quickly that Doyle’s presence immediately raises the standard of the officiating around the league. The vast majority of his calls were good as well. The notable exception was Kieran Joyce’s try that was called back. Doyle may owe Joyce a pint or two for that one. Despite that many coaches, managers, players, and media all took to Twitter to sign the praises of Doyle.
Ultimately, everything clicked for the Arrows on Saturday. The backline was on fire and the champagne rugby was a great way to start the weekend. The defence was great throughout the match and did not give Seattle much hope of ever crawling back into the game. If the Arrows continue to play as they did on Saturday, they will be quickly ascending the ladder in the East.