Toronto Arrows Weekly Round Up (06/27-07/04)
Source: Dennis D. Hawk / @doctorhawkphoto
Last Week’s Match
The Toronto Arrows fell 31-24 to Rugby United New York last weekend. The loss extends their losing streak to 5 games. The big talking point after the game was a horrendous blown call on New York’s second try of the match. John Sheridan came across the pitch and looked to make a brilliant tackle on Apenisa Cakaubalavu to knock the ball loose. However, the try was given despite the fact that Cakaubalavu had clearly dropped the ball and a great play from Sheridan went unrewarded.
The Arrows looked solid throughout the match with the exception of Benjamin Bonasso’s try where he ran through a gap in the Arrows line and the cover defense was poor allowing him to scamper 50 metres and score under the post.
The Arrows received tries from Joaquín Tuculet, Mike Sheppard, and Mitch Richardson. A handful of opportunities went unconverted through handling errors. A big positive from the match was the play of Sam Malcolm who made his first appearance since his return. Malcolm brought plenty of pace and some new found energy in the Arrows lineup that will hopefully carry over into this week with Old Glory DC.
With 13 Arrows currently representing Canada and Uruguay, Mark Winokur continues to make additions to the squad for the final stretch. The Arrows have added Pacific Pride utility back Alex Russell and Pathway 404 Academy scrumhalf Reid Watkins. Russell is a McCormick Cup Champion with the 2018 Markham Irish, a championship he won alongside John Sheridan. Russell is a graduate of McGill University where he served as captain on the rugby team.
With the Pride, Russell was listed as a winger, but is capable of playing across fullback and centre as well. The Burnaby Lake presence on the Arrows continues to grow as Watkins joins Vikilani and Joe Tomlinson in the squad. Watkins has represented the BC Bears and a handful of other touring sides. Most recently he was part of Pathway 404 in the Rugby ATL system.
Week 16 Preview
The Arrows will look to put an end to their losing streak and begin to build something positive toward the end of the year. Up next is Old Glory DC, who currently own a 4-8-1 record and are the only other Eastern Conference team officially eliminated from playoff contention. Old Glory DC will be looking to put an end to their own 4 game losing streak.
Old Glory DC
Ciaran Hearn will be the sole Canadian representative on the pitch with Doug Fraser in the UK and Luke Campbell ruled out. Hearn will be in the centres alongside Renata Roberts-Te Nana. Danny Tusitala and Jason Robertson will form the halfback pairing. The outside backs will be young and full of speed with D’Montae Noble, Sam Cusano, and Dylan Taikato-Simpson providing plenty of speed and counter attacking opportunities.
Jamie Dever, James King, and Steven Longwell have developed in quite the front row with Tevita Naqali and Api Naikatini providing plenty of power from the engine room. Captain Mungo Mason highlights the back row with Cory Daniel and Josh Brown.
Chris Silverthorn has elected for a handful of changes to his lineup for last week. Of course, many of those changes are due to the departure of all the internationals now. Pat Lynott and Gastón Cortes return to the starting prop positions. Paul Ciulini and Ollie Nott move into the starting XV in place of Adrian Wadden and Mason Flesch.
It’s a bit of a new look back line as Andrew Ferguson gets the start at scrumhalf. Tayler Adams will complete the halfback pairing. Sam Malcolm makes his first start at fullback since his return. This will push Joaquín Tuculet to the wing. Manuel Montero will make his return to the lineup after his injury. He will come off the bench in the 22 jersey. Neither Russell of Watkins will make their debut this week.
Despite the departures, the Arrows are still putting out an incredible backline. Ferguson, Tuculet, and Guiseppe du Toit have all been capped by their nations. Adams is ranked 2nd in league scoring despite missing some games. Malcolm was arguably the best fullback in the league in 2020 and the same can be said for his performance at flyhalf in 2019.
Richardson and Sheridan have always been terrific depth players and have had their own moments of brilliance on the pitch. I’m going to look for this backline to build some creativity in attack to expose the gaps in Old Glory’s defense.
Old Glory has had a low tackle percentage throughout the year and those missed tackles have certainly contributed to them giving up the most points in the Eastern conference (402). Strangely enough, Old Glory DC is the only Eastern Conference squad with a negative point differential. Old Glory DC will look to limit these defensive errors, while the Arrows will need to be precise in execution to capitalize on them.
A key area in this game for both teams will be the lineout. Both clubs have struggled in this area of the game throughout the year. Old Glory DC will be without their primary jumper Stan South and likely look to Naqali for plenty of takes. On the opposite end, Toronto will have Tomás de la Vega at their disposal. If de la Vega can help the Arrows win this battle in this set piece it could create a big advantage for the club.
The Toronto Arrows will battle Old Glory DC at 6pm on TSN 2, tsn.ca, the TSN app, and the Rugby Network.