Toronto vs Houston - Game #9 Preview, Lineups & Streaming Info
Source: Darren Zemanek/Toronto Arrows
The Toronto Arrows head to the Lonestar state for their first Texan clash this season. The Arrows will be looking to put a stop to their current two game losing skid. The SaberCats find themselves in a similar situation. They currently sit 5th in the western conference with a 2-5-0 record and are in the midst of their own three game losing streak. One of these clubs will put an end to a difficult few weeks tonight.
The home side will feature plenty of Canadian flair in this matchup. Robbie Povey gets the start at flyhalf once again. Povey has racked up 5 tries this season (although he scored all of them over the course of two games). That total trails only DTH van der Merwe for most tries by a Canadian this year. Houston has shifted Povey around the lineup throughout the year, but he seems to have had the most success at 10.
The bench features front rowers Liam Murray and Nik Hildebrand both from the Pacific Pride program. Weirdly enough, Murray will become the second former Arrow behind Old Glory DC’s Luke Campbell to suit up against the club. Murray dressed for the Arrows as part of a one-game loan, coincidentally, in that same matchup against Campbell’s DC squad.
Coach Paul Healy has made a lot of changes. A lot of changes. Between the new faces in the lineup and other players being shifted around, only Paula Balekana, Nicolás Solveyra, and Nick Boyer retain their same jersey as last week vs NOLA. Sam Windsor will shift to fullback and Joseph Thomas slots into the inside centre spot.
Canadian Lucas Albornoz finds himself out of the lineup as Van Stewart and Apisai Tauyavuca start at lock. Diego Magno moves to openside flanker bringing Adriaan Booysen back into the starting lineup.
Chris Silverthorn has also made a handful of changes to his side as they prepare for the final game before the much-needed bye week. The biggest change is at flyhalf. Tayler Adams is given the extra week off allowing Will Kelly to make his first career MLR start. Spencer Jones will start at inside centre which sees Pat Parfrey shifting to fullback, Gastón Mieres moved to the wing, and Leandro Leivas out of the lineup.
In the pack, Pat Lynott and Tyler Rowland will be in the front row with Andrew Quattrin. Adrian Wadden and Paul Ciulini replaced Mason Flesch and Mike Sheppard in the 4 and 5 jerseys. No changes to the rugby gods that occupy the Arrows’ back row. No changes to the rugby gods that occupy the Arrows’ backrow.
On the bench, Andrew Ferguson, Guiseppe du Toit, and Mitch Richardson all return to the lineup.
Kelly vs Povey
This really is the biggest story of this match. With Rugby Canada confirming test matches against Wales and England will be happening this July, the biggest question mark on Kingsley Jones’ squad is the flyhalf position. Overseas options like Peter Nelson and Shane O’Leary are in the mix. However, on this side of the Atlantic, all eyes will be on Will Kelly and Robbie Povey.
Over his last two games at flyhalf, Povey has scored 5 tries. Kelly has seen limited play time behind Tayler Adams, but he is being given a huge opportunity to prove himself tonight. Jones will no doubt have his eye on this match. It will be a big chance for both players to show where they stand in the Rugby Canada depth chart.
Lucas Rumball has been having an unreal season for the Toronto Arrows. He has been immense on defense and in the breakdown. It has been pointed out many times, but Rumball finds himself on top of the league in many key categories such as attacking ruck arrivals, defensive ruck arrivals, and breakdown steals. He is 2nd overall in tackles made, behind only his teammate Tomás de la Vega.
The breakdown stat is truly the insane one. Rumball leads the league with 18, no one else has more than 5. Even better, there are currently five teams that have less than 18 total breakdown steals. Five teams have less steals than Lucas Rumball does by himself. Let that sink in. Rumball is playing some truly special rugby right now, and I would highly recommend tuning into every Arrows game to watch it unfold.
Toronto’s Attack vs Houston’s Defense
Houston’s defense has struggled throughout the 2021 season. They have conceded 34 tries, the most of any team in MLR. Their 240 points against is 11th in the league ahead of only the San Diego Legion. This week that defense faces off with the Toronto Arrows, who’s 242 points scored trails only the LA Giltinis’ mark of 298. The Arrows’ attack has been playing well, but it will feature a new look tonight. Kelly will be at flyhalf, with Spencer Jones at the all important inside centre position.
On paper it is quite the favourable matchup for the Arrows. Ben LeSage, Manuel Montero, and Gastón Mieres have been adept at finding holes in the team's defenses all year. If the Arrows attack can find the cracks in the SaberCats defense, it could be a long night for the lads in yellow and black.
The Toronto Arrows battle the Houston SaberCats at 8pm on all the TSN platforms in Canada or on the Rugby Network worldwide. For all your Toronto Arrows news, be sure to follow @BressetteTheJet and @LaymansSports on your favourite social media network.