Toronto Arrows vs Giltinis - Game #4 Preview, Lineups & Streaming Info
The Toronto Arrows are set to play their first “home” game of the year as they get set to battle the LA Giltinis. The Giltinis have had a strong start to 2021 showing off their high-octane attack. This will be their first road game in franchise history. The game will take place at the Gold Mine in NOLA as part of a doubleheader that will see the Gold take on the other Gil-club, the Austin Gilgronis shortly after.
The squad that GM Adam Frier has assembled is impressive, to say the least. They bring a bevy of international talent that is highlighted by Wallabies’ legends flyhalf Matt Giteau and centre Adam Ashley-Cooper. Other players joining the squad have experience in the Premiership, Pro 14, and Super Rugby. One of the biggest names in the squad is DTH van der Merwe; Canada’s all-time leading try scorer.
Van der Merwe got the Giltinis off to a flying start by scoring the first two tries in the club’s history. In both cases, the ball worked the way through the hands of the loaded backline. The backline that, in addition to Giteau, AAC, and DTH includes Harrison Goddard, Luke Burton, John Ryberg, and Glenn Bryce. Burton will be starting in place of the injured Bill Meakes, who has been outstanding in the opening two matches.
Beyond van der Merwe, the Giltinis boast plenty of other Canadian content. Corey Thomas will get his first MLR start at lock. He will be alongside former Exeter Chief David Dennis in the engine room. Hooker Lindsey Stevens finds himself out of the lineup this week. As a bonus, LA also has Rugby Canada performance analyst Marc Carter as part of their staff, and Alana Gattinger recently joined the club’s operations staff.
Mark Winokur and Chris Silverthorn have made very few changes to their squad following the win in DC last week. Gastón Cortes returns from suspension pushing Tyler Rowland back into the reserves. Liam Murray has been returned to the Houston SaberCats. The Arrows were undefeated during the Liam Murray era. La Pantera Manuel Montero returns from injury creating a dynamic all-South American back three with Gastón Mieres and Joaquín Tuculet.
That covers all the changes made to the Arrows lineup. With the exception of the injured Siaki Vikilani, this is essentially a full-strength Arrows’ squad. Ross Braude will once again wear the 9 jersey, making him the first scrumhalf to get two starts this season (you have to stick with the winning lineup, right?).
The squads in this match are quite contrasting and represent different philosophies for building an MLR championship team. The Giltinis have once again maxed out their twelve foreign player slots and just four domestic players are in the starting lineup. The Arrows are a team mostly built out of the Ontario Blues program. Just seven foreign players feature in the lineup with the rest of the squad being Canadian talent.
Make Your Tackles
The Arrows may have won last week, but one stat certainly jumped out: 41 missed tackles. The club is currently making less than 80% of its tackles. It is certainly an area of the game that needs to be cleaned up. Not just for the Giltinis, but for the season as a whole. The Arrows were good in defence last week. The structure is there and the defensive tactics are sound.
Hopefully, the tackle execution will be there this week as well. The Giltinis’ attack is loaded and potent. The Arrows can’t afford a tackle percentage that low this week.
Slow Them Down
The Giltinis like to play fast. Why wouldn’t you when you have a backline like that? Goddard has been able to generate plenty of quick balls to facilitate that attack. Last week the Arrows did a great job slowing down Danny Tusitala and it will need to happen here again. Lucas Rumball and Tomás de la Vega have shown that they are two of the best in the league at the breakdown. They will need big games once again to generate turnovers.
Rumball currently leads the league with 8 breakdown steals, more than double second place. An effective Rumball and de la Vega could wreak havoc on the Giltinis game plan. Cole Keith and Andrew Quattrin also put in plenty of good work at the breakdown as well. LA will be without usual starting openside flanker Christian Poidevin. The Arrows will look to take advantage.
A lot has been made of the explosive star power that is in the Giltinis’ backline. However, I think the Arrows might match up here a lot better than people think. This is really going to be the first time we see the full force of the Arrows’ backline this season. Ross Braude, Tayler Adams, Guiseppe du Toit, Ben LeSage, Gastón Mieres, Manuel Montero, and Joaquín Tuculet is also pretty scary to look at.
On paper both backlines are excellent and it will make for some fun matchups. The big one for me will be the back 3; Mieres, Montero, and Tuculet vs van der Merwe, Ryberg, and Bryce. I’m excited to see how the South American flair working together as a full unit for the first time. LA plays an expansive game, so there will likely be plenty of meetings between these six down the touchlines.
Ben LeSage being able to test himself against a legend in Ashley-Cooper is an enticing matchup as well. Adams’ kicking game has looked great so far, how will that compare to Giteau? This should be a lot of fun!
You can catch the Arrows battling the Giltinis on TSN.ca, the TSN app, or the Rugby Network if you are outside of Canada. Please note that the game will be on TSN2, but that will be joining in progress at 2:00pm. Kickoff on TSN.ca will be live at 1:30pm.