17 February 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAS VEGAS, NV – The Toronto Arrows continued their winning start to the 2020 Major League Rugby season on Sunday afternoon, posting a thrilling 27-22 win over the Houston SaberCats in Las Vegas.
Sunday’s Vegas Weekend matinee kicked off with 17 consecutive points from the Arrows: an early penalty goal from the boot of Sam Malcolm was followed up by rapid-fire tries from centre Guiseppe du Toit and No. 8 Manuel Diana – all scored before the match’s first hydration break.
Houston sprang to life minutes later, with scrum-half De Wet Roos reacting quickest to a bouncing ball kicked into Toronto territory and racing in for the score to cut the Arrows’ lead to 12.
With SaberCats centre Tiaan Loots sent to the sin bin following a dangerous tackle, Toronto exploited its numerical advantage to score its third try of the opening half. A Houston clearance kick was plucked up by fly-half Tayler Adams, who sucked in multiple defenders before sending a pass to centre Ben LeSage. The Canadian international then drew in the final defender before springing wing Dan Moor for an unimpeded laneway to the in-goal area, putting the Arrows ahead 24-5 entering halftime.
The SaberCats were the first to strike coming out of the interval, with substitute hooker Diego Fortuny crashing over the line for a try from a lineout drive just minutes after the restart.
Both sides traded penalty goals throughout the middle stages of the second frame, which saw Toronto holding a 27-15 lead entering the final minutes of the match.
An eventful final 10 minutes kicked off when Arrows flanker Tomás de la Vega was issued a yellow card for repeat infringement, subtracting Toronto to 14 men. From the ensuing scrum, Roos scampered in on the blindside for his second try, with Windsor’s conversion bringing Houston within five.
Minutes later, as Houston’s surge mounted, the Arrows were further reduced to 13 men when Mike Sheppard was red-carded for making contact with a SaberCat head while attempting a tackle.
Down two men, the match ended in exciting fashion with several Houston backs joining a driving maul that crossed the Toronto goal-line before match official Jamie Nutbrown reached for his whistle to blow the play dead. After consulting with his assistant referee, Nutbrown ruled that the SaberCats had not been able to ground the ball, bringing the match to a thrilling end.
“There are plenty of positives to take from that win, but the end to that match – especially the final few minutes – definitely added some grey to our hair,” said Arrows Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn. “Kudos to our guys for the valiant goal-line stand at the end. That might be the first time I’ve seen a 14-man maul before, but our guys showed bravery to hang on and not concede. It’s good to be returning home with a win and four points, but we’ll have plenty to work on in training ahead of our game against a hungry Seattle side on Saturday night.”
The ‘home’ win in Vegas moves Toronto’s record to 2-0-0, and sees the club sitting first in the Eastern Conference with nine points.
Sunday’s game was the second of seven consecutive away matches for Canada’s first professional rugby union team. The club will then play seven of its final nine matches at home between April 4 and May 31 to close out its sophomore MLR regular season. The Arrows enter round three of the season with a road match against the 0-2-0 Seattle Seawolves on Saturday, Feb. 22. The fixture marks the first home match of 2020 for the winless reigning champions.
Toronto Arrows Score Report
Tries: G. du Toit (12), M. Diana (15), D. Moor (33)
Conversions: S. Malcolm 3 (13, 16, 34)
Penalty Goals: S. Malcolm (3), T. Adams (66)
Houston SaberCats Score Report
Tries: D. Roos 2 (17, 77), D. Fortuny (46)
Conversions: S. Windsor 2 (47, 78)
Penalty Goals: S. Windsor (55)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. Houston SaberCats
1. Richie Asiata
2. Andrew Quattrin
3. Cole Keith
4. Mike Sheppard
5. Paul Ciulini
6. Tomy de la Vega
7. Lucas Rumball
8. Manuel Diana
9. Jamie Mackenzie
10. Tayler Adams
11. John Sheridan
12. Guiseppe du Toit
13. Ben LeSage
14. Dan Moor (C)
15. Sam Malcolm
16. Steven Ng
17. Pat Lynott
18. Tyler Rowland
19. Josh Van Horne
20. Peter Milazzo
21. Andrew Ferguson
22. Will Kelly
23. Mitch Richardson
Vice President & General Manager: Mark Winokur
Director of Rugby:Chris Silverthorn
Coaches: Aaron Carpenter, Cory Hector, Peter Smith
Performance Analyst: Rodin Lozada
Team Physicians: Dr. Anthony Dixon, Dr. Chris Gallimore, Dr. John Gillis
Athletic Therapist: Perry Fan
Physiotherapist: Rohit Rajput
About Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club:
The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.
Competing in Major League Rugby, the team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://torontoarrows.com/
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Header Photo Credit: Darren Zemanek