Toronto Arrows vs OGDC - Game #3 Preview, Lineups & Streaming Info
Source: Norma Salinas/Austin Gilgronis Rugby
The Toronto Arrows will look to put their first notch in the win column this week as they head to the capital to battle Old Glory DC. Old Glory has gotten off to a solid start in 2021 by drawing a match against NOLA then defeating Rugby ATL 30-23. This match will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides.
Old Glory DC
Two of Old Glory’s three Canadians will start against the Arrows. Doug Fraser gets the nod at inside centre alongside Eagle Thretton Palamo in the DC midfield. Luke Campbell has earned his first start of the 2021 season as he replaces Callum Gibbins at blindside flanker. Gibbins will now be in the reserves.
The fun piece of trivia for this match will be that Campbell will become the first former Arrow to play against them on Saturday afternoon. The Arrows have been praised for the consistency of their roster over their first two years in MLR. Up until now the few players that have left, have either retired or play in a different league.
Head coach Andrew Douglas has opted for minimal changes this week. Danny Tusitala returns to his rightful place in the 9 jersey after a brief stint at flyhalf last week. Mike Dabulas slots into the 10 jersey, a combination that worked very well last week in the absence of the injured Jason Robertson. The rest of the backline remains the same.
Beyond Campbell, the only other change in the pack is Stan South will start at lock and Api Naikatini will be in the reserves. Naikatini famously haunted the Arrows while he was in Seattle with some devastating hits in the 2019 semi-final. Ultimately, the Arrows will be up against one of the in-form teams of the Eastern Conference.
The most noteworthy item on Toronto’s matchday squad is Houston SaberCats prop Liam Murray has been loaned to the Arrows for an unspecified length of time. Murray will look to shore up some depth in the front row and get some valuable playing time for his own development. He has not featured in either of Houston’s first two matches.
The interesting thing is that Murray is primarily a loosehead. It is where he played for James Bay, Canada U20, and the two Houston pre-season matches. However, he has played some games for the BC Bears at tighthead. Ultimately, between him and Pat Lynott, the Arrows will have two props that are typically looseheads on the bench with Cole Keith and Tyler Rowland starting.
On to the rest of the lineup. Beyond the front row, the only other change to the pack is Paul Ciulini returning from injury. Mike Sheppard returns to the reserves. Two changes in the backs as Mitch Richardson draws back in on the right wing due to injuries to Leandro Leivas and Manuel Montero. Ross Braude will get his first MLR start at scrumhalf with Jason Higgins in the reserves. This will be the Arrows’ third starting scrumhalf in as many games.
Danny Tusitala vs Ross Braude
If you were to place a bet on who would be the MVP at the end of the season, the favourite right now would be Danny Tusitala. Even in switching positions partway through last week’s match with Rugby ATL, Tusitala racked up 20 of Old Glory’s 30 points. In the match against NOLA, he showed that even if his squad is playing defence most of the night all he needs is a fraction of a second to score from just about anywhere.
It’s early, but Tusitala’s 32 points leads the MLR through two weeks. Tusitala is outstanding at getting the ball out of the back of the scrum and generating plenty of go forward off the set piece, even if it is rolling backwards (although they have a much-improved front row in DC now). Ultimately, Tusitala is the league’s most inform player at the moment and could be quite the handful for the Arrows.
The Arrows will counter with Ross Braude who will be making his first career MLR start. The South African-born scrumhalf is a product of the Springbok factory known as Grey College and won back-to-back titles with age-grade Bulls sides. This will be incredibly fascinating as our first real look at Braude in North America will be against the top scrumhalf in MLR at the moment. How will he measure up?
The Back Rows
Luke Campbell, Mungo Mason, Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz versus Tomás de la Vega, Lucas Rumball, and Manuel Diana. I don’t know if I need to explain this one any further, but in case I do:
Fa’anana-Schultz and Diana are two of the fiercest ball carriers in MLR. They will likely top their respective teams in carries once again and frequently run into their opposing back rows, which will mean we get to see some big collisions. After those collisions, a ruck will form where Lucas Rumball can add to his already immense breakdown steal total.
Campbell will be looking to get a few cracks at his former club in the rucks as well. Mason, Fa’anana-Schultz, Rumball, and de la Vega are all among the tackle leaders. So is Callum Gibbins. The former Glasgow Warrior will be coming off the bench. Kolby Francis will join the fray for the Arrows. Ultimately, Old Glory and Toronto may have two of the best back rows in MLR. It should be a lot of fun watching this battle.
Send a Message
The Arrows may have started 0-2-0, but that has not shaken my belief that they are SHIELD contenders. This game against Old Glory needs to be the game that the Arrows send a message to the rest of MLR. We all know the Arrows can play better than this. It’s time to prove it. By taking down the East's’ most in-form team, the Arrows can show that they are still the team to beat in the conference.
You can watch the Arrows take on Doug Fraser, Luke Campbell, and Old Glory DC at 5pm on TSN2, tsn.ca, and the TSN app in Canada or The Rugby Network from around the globe.