Toronto Arrows vs Utah Warriors - Game #2 Preview, Lineups & Streaming Info
Source: Utah Warriors
Following an opening-round loss to Rugby ATL, the Toronto Arrows will look to bounce back in a big way against the Utah Warriors. In round 1 the Warriors staved off a comeback attempt from the Austin Gilgronis to earn a tight 30-28 victory. The last time the Arrows visited Utah, they put in a record-setting performance earning a 64-31 victory on the backs of 9 different try scorers.
After the round 1 win, Shawn Pittman has made just one change to his starting XV. However, that change does come with some additional shifting around. Winger Joe Mano drops to the bench, fullback Mike Te’o shifts to the wing, and 17 cap Namibia international Cliven Loubser slots into fullback. The shift in the backline is interesting as Loubser is typically a flyhalf. Hagen Schulte will continue to fill that role this week, as Te’o and Loubser play a little out of position. Star Eagle tighthead prop Paul Mullen remains out of the lineup.
The lone Canadian in the matchday squad will be Fraser Hurst. Hurst will backup starting scrumhalf Michael Baska for the second week in a row. In last week’s tight matchup with the Gilgronis. Hurst was the only player on the 23-man squad to not see the pitch for the Warriors.
Gaston Cortes begins serving his two-game suspension for the red card incident in the 69th minute against Rugby ATL. As a result, we see a shift across the front row. Cole Keith will return to the tighthead side in Cortes’ absence, meaning Pat Lynott starts at loosehead. Andrew Quattrin also returns to the 2 jersey to solidify the front row.
One other change in the pack sees Paul Ciulini join Siaki Vikilani, Jamie Mackenzie, and Spencer Jones on the injured list. Mike Sheppard will start, with Kolby Francis on the bench. Tomas de la Vega and Lucas Rumball were the Arrows’ two best players last week. They will be alongside Manuel Diana in an unchanged back row.
The backline sees a number of changes. Jason Higgins starts over Andrew Ferguson at scrumhalf this week. Gaston Mieres replaces Mitch Richardson on the wing. Pat Parfrey gets bumped to the bench in favour of one of the league’s biggest off-season signings Joaquin Tuculet. Manuel Montero, the Arrows’ other big off-season acquisition will come off the bench. Also, on the bench will be newly signed prop Chris Atkinson, who is in line to replace Lynott off the bench.
Suelta los Pumas
The Toronto Arrows lost both Dan Moor and Sam Malcolm to retirement and Japan during the off-season. As an Arrows fan, that had me worried as they were two of the club’s best players and the heart of the team. Then I saw who they signed and my excitement went through the roof.
Fullback Joaquin Tuculet has 56 caps for Los Pumas scoring 18 tries including the 2017 try of the year. At 6’4”, 235lbs, Manuel Montero is an absolute monster of a winger. His speed and strength will be a massive handful for wingers around MLR. Montero was known for his devastating strike rate. He put up 14 tries in his first 21 test matches for Argentina. Both players will look to prove what all the hype is about as they make their MLR debuts on Saturday night.
For a long time, I have always said the Toronto Arrows were the deepest team in Major League Rugby. Now, that depth is being tested especially in the front row. The late departure of Richie Asiata, Rob Brouwer not travelling to Atlanta, Steven Ng’s injury, and now Gaston Cortes’ suspension has put quite the strain on the front row.
The Arrows will have plenty of opportunities to prove that they are indeed the deepest squad in MLR. Lynott, Quattrin, and Keith will start with Jack McRogers, Chris Atkinson, and Tyler Rowland coming off the bench. Atkinson, the 23-year-old prop, is a product of the Surrey Beavers and the Pacific Pride program. He is in-line to make his professional debut against the Warriors.
The Arrows scrum had an unreal night against Atlanta. Their performance sparked plenty of conversations about some of the new laws in MLR this year. Utah had a good night against Austin, although they did concede a penalty try at the scrum. This young Arrows front row will face a challenge in Franco van den Berg, Sama Malolo, Angus MacLellan, Alex Tucci, Ratu Vugakoto, and Oli Kilifi. I would still back the Arrows to do what they always do, and win the scrum battle.
The Bounce Back vs Keeping the Streak
The Toronto Arrows have never lost back-to-back games. The Utah Warriors have never won back-to-back games. Toronto would like to ensure their record stays. Utah would like to see that stat change. To see who comes out on top tonight, tune in on TSN.ca in Canada, FS2 in the USA, or the Rugby Network from around the world.