Toronto Arrows vs Seattle - Game #5 Preview, Lineups & Streaming Info
Source: Major League Rugby
Is there a better way to begin your weekend than with a little rugby? Usually, the Saturday morning time slot is reserved for the European competitions, but not today! So set the alarms (which I presume you have done if you are reading this), make some coffee, grab some breakfast and watch the Toronto Arrows battle the Seattle Seawolves bright and early.
The 10:30am kickoff time is certainly unusual, but the two clubs will be keen to get week 5 started on a high note. The Arrows are stumbling out to a 1-3-0 start after falling to the Giltinis last week. The Seawolves know the feeling well as they were defeated by the Giltinis in LA’s previous outing. However, Seattle will be riding a high after picking up their first win of the season against the Warriors last week.
This matchup is always an intriguing one for Canadian rugby fans as the Seawolves have traditionally been the American MLR team with the biggest Canadian influence. However, Kees Lensing’s side this morning only features half of the Canadian contingent in the matchday 23.
Upfront, Djustice Sears-Duru and Jake Ilnicki will feature alongside hooker Mike Shepherd in the front row. George Barton will continue to build on his solid start to the season at inside centre. Lensing has used Barton as a big crash ball centre and it has really been opening up space for Ross Neal or anyone else who finds themselves on the receiving end of Barton’s pass.
After getting his first start of 2021, Nakai Penny will be out of the lineup allowing for a back row of Eric Duechle, Andrew Durutalo, and Riekert Hattingh with Les Soloai and Tommy Hunkin-Clark on the bench.
The back row sees a bit of a shake-up. Ben Cima returns to the lineup, but it will not be in his usual spot. Cima will start at fullback, with Kieran Joyce at flyhalf, and Matt Turner on the wing. With JP Smith out with a concussion, Devereaux Ferris will be the only scrumhalf dressed by Seattle. The bench will feature a flyhalf (Aaron Matthews) and two centres (Seta Tuilevuka and Juan Pablo Aguirre).
Ultimately, the backline features a few lads playing a tad out of position. It should make for some intriguing rugby.
A difficult start to the season means there will be some changes to Chris Silverthorn’s lineup for Saturday. After receiving two cards (and a suspension) already this season, Gaston Cortes finds himself on the bench and Tyler Rowland gets the start at tighthead prop. The versatile Pat Parfrey will get his first start of 2021 alongside Ben LeSage in the centres.
The return of Spencer Jones also means that Guiseppe du Toit finds himself out of the lineup this week. Jack McRogers starts at hooker ahead of Andrew Quattrin, who was forced to leave the last week’s match in just the 13th minute. Cobourg Saxons forward Mason Flesch will make his first career MLR appearance and it’s a start. He will be with Paul Ciulini in the engine room bumping Adrian Wadden to the bench.
The final change is Marcello Wainwright replacing Kolby Francis on the bench.
Former Premiership referee JP Doyle will make his MLR debut as he officiates this match between the Arrows and Seawolves. Doyle is a veteran of 150 Premiership games and officiated at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It will be interesting to see what Doyle’s experience can bring to MLR.
The Arrows have not been playing as poorly as their record might indicate. However, there are certainly areas that need correcting. The lineout is perhaps the most obvious one. Last week against LA it was in shambles and quite ineffective. The Arrows find themselves near the bottom of the league in lineouts won percentage.
It is a stat that will need to be improved on this week against Seattle. This will be especially true if the Arrows continue to opt for lineouts off penalties instead of scrums, which seems to be where they are trending in the last two games.
I would make the argument that Lucas Rumball has been the best player in Major League Rugby so far this season. His work rate is unmatched as he is the league leader in defensive ruck arrivals and top 10 in attacking ruck arrivals. His work on the defensive side of the ball has been immense. His 56 tackles are ranked 4th in MLR, but the truly mind-boggling stat is his breakdown steals.
Rumball currently has a league-leading 10 breakdown steals. You would need to combine the totals of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place players in order to catch him. The Arrows’ captain is truly taking on a lead by example approach this season. The Arrows will need another massive shift from the league’s best openside flanker.
Toronto Arrow vs Seattle Seawolves kicks off at 10:30am on TSN2, tsn.ca, or the TSN app. If you are outside of Canada, you can catch the game on The Rugby Network. For all your Arrows and MLR news, be sure to follow @BressetteTheJet and @LaymansSports on your favourite social media network.