Arrows Stay Undefeated, Seawolves Stay Winless
Source: Quinn Width via @TorontoArrows
The Toronto Arrows improved to 3-0-0 with a convincing 39-17 victory over the back-to-back Champions Seattle Seawolves. The Arrows thoroughly dominated the match from kickoff to the fulltime whistle. The Arrows captains led by example as Dan Moor picked up 2 tries and Lucas Rumball dotted down his first of the year.
The star of the match was Sam Malcolm who put on an absolute kicking clinic in this match. Malcolm was a perfect 6 for 6 on penalties and 3 for 3 on conversions for a total of 24 points. Away from the tee, Malcolm and Tayler Adams’ kicking game completely dissected Seattle and allowed the Arrows to thoroughly control the territory and possession throughout the match.
The match could not have gotten off to a better start for the Arrows. Malcolm put the first 3 points on the board after just 4 minutes. The Arrows would dictate the pace of the play in the early stages as the head 86% of the territory after the opening 15 minutes.
The one Arrows’ blemish of the first half came shortly after the 15-minute mark. Shalom Suniula broke through a hole between Rumball and Adams. This would eventually lead to a series of offside penalties and Manuel Diana would get sent to the sin bin. Mat Turner would dot down in the corner for the first try of the match after a set piece play from the ensuing scrum.
The entire sequence of play lasted just under 10 minutes, but it would be the only 10 minutes where Toronto was not in complete control of this match.
Sam Malcolm and Tayler Adams began to take over the game at this point. Guiseppe du Toit had a great run that drew a George Barton penalty, which Malcolm promptly slotted for his 2nd of the match. Away from the tee, Malcolm, Adams, and the rest of the Arrows exhibited exceptional game management.
The Arrows were always able to find themselves in the right areas of the park. Both Adams and Malcolm were able to flip the pitch with a series of well executed kicks.
The takeover began immediately following Malcolm’s 2nd penalty. After JP Smith sent his first of 4 restarts out on the full. The Arrows did well to control the scrum and Adams sent a kick over the top of the Seawolves defensive line as Ben LeSage (also had a great game) gave chase. The kick rolled into touch. Seattle struggled to clear and the Arrows had a lineout at the 22.
Following the lineout, Adams would spring LeSage on a linebreak and he would send a gorgeous pass out to Moor on the wing for the try. The try truly all started with a well place kick from Adams with the aim of controlling territory.
That’s what the majority of the rest of the game would look like. Adams, Malcolm, or du Toit would execute a well-placed kick that the Arrows would use to pin Seattle deep in their own end. In total, Adams would kick for 225m, Malcolm kicked for 119m, and du Toit added 132m as the Arrows controlled 60% of the territory in the match. Seattle is clearly missing Ben Cima’s presence.
Smith, Suniula, and Turner were no match for the Arrows in the kicking game. As previously mentioned, Smith struggled on the restarts which certainly helped give the Arrows a territorial advantage. When Seattle was pinned deep, they often struggled to get quality clearance kicks. The advantage the Arrows had in the kicking game was a major factor in their decisive victory.
Malcolm put in the clear MoTM and POW performance this week. It was not just going 9 for 9 from the tee or the kicking from hand. Malcolm was great on defense as well making 11 tackles at 100% success rate. Ultimately, Malcolm is continuing to show that he is one of the premier players in MLR.
The addition of Adams has only made him more dangerous. Malcolm’s and Adams’ skill set are complementary to each other as a flyhalf and fullback. Adams possesses more of that offensive x-factor, the ability to bring you out of your seat with a great pass or a cheeky kick. Malcolm displays an incredibly high level of rugby IQ.
He is always in the right spot and seems to make the correct decision every time. He uses the high IQ to send know the precise moment to jump into the attack from the fullback position and create holes for his teammates. Malcolm may also be the most underrated defensive player in MLR. The combination of Adams and Malcolm is looking like an absolute nightmare to defend.
I have spent the majority of this article gushing over the play of Malcolm and Adams, but they were far from the only Arrows that had a great game. Richie Asiata’s ball carrying ability continues to impress. Asiata had 14 carries for 75m. His running style is a bit more dynamic than a traditional prop and defenders seem like they struggle to deal with it.
Asiata’s hands are also smooth as he made a few nice passes in the match. Every time he touches the ball, he makes something positive happen. On the other side of the front row, Cole Keith was outstanding. Keith carried for 12m with 6 tackles. His most impressive stat was arriving at 37 attacking rucks and 4 defensively, demonstrating a great work rate.
The Arrows scrum was once again solid with both Asiata and Keith in the front row. Lucas Rumball put up some impressive numbers in this match. He had a great workrate arriving at 32 total rucks, 15 tackles (88%), 26m carried, and a picked up his first try of the year. Despite playing just 53 minutes (due to a yellow card and a substitution), Manuel Diana led the game with 97m carried. Of his 16 caries he broke beyond the gainline 92% of the time. Diana was an absolute force with ball in hand during this match.
I highlighted the centre matchup in my match preview. Guiseppe du Toit and Ben LeSage did not disappoint. Obviously, LeSage had the highlight reel pass on Moor’s try. He also led the Arrows with 16 tackles (at 94%) and was 2nd to Diana picking up 87m on just 6 carries (14.5m/carry). I touched on du Toit’s excellent kicking already. He added 12 tackles, putting both centres in the Arrows top 3 (with Rumball). Du Toit led all backs arriving at 15 total rucks to go along with 54m carried.
Finally, Captain Dan Moor had 2 tries which puts him first overall in the MLR and above a try per game pace. He is the only player in MLR to have a try in each of the first three games.
Ultimately, Malcolm and Adams were the stars of the match, but plenty of Arrows put in excellent performances. The way the Arrows controlled this game was masterful. In their current form, there is no reason the Arrows should not be favourites to win the Eastern Conference.