Arrows Narrowly Drop 2021 Opener in Atlanta
With files from The Rugby Network
Move the coffee table and keep the beer fridge safe. This “Battle of the Roommates” was an intense affair, indeed. Rugby ATL is playing host to Toronto this season as the Arrows temporary relocate to the United States amidst the pandemic, and the familiarity between the two squads was on full display.
ATL built a reputation as one of MLR’s best defensive teams a year ago, while Toronto’s explosive offense produced the league’s best point differential and a 4-1 record at the shutdown. It looked like the Arrows’ attack might take the edge in this one, as the visitors scored just three minutes in. Hooker Jack McRogers knifed through the ATL defense to score his first try on his first start for the club, and it was 7-0 early.
ATL responded four minutes later before big Argentinian flanker Tomy de la Vega scored to put his squad back up, 14-7. A huge clearance kick put ATL in Toronto territory to set up a break from ATL’s #5 Johan Momsen. His offload to former Colorado Raptors’ flanker Connor Cook had the home team knocking on the door inside the five-metre line. Some patient, sustained picks were ultimately rewarded when Momsen finished the opportunity his break created. The conversion from #12 Bautista Ezcurra knotted things up with 18 minutes to go in the first half.
That score held until just before the break, when ATL’s rolling maul delivered the lead and the momentum. It looked like it would be a high-scoring affair after 40 minutes, but both defenses stood up in the second half.
ATL came into the match with well-earned pride in its defense. It answered the bell time and again as Toronto threatened throughout the second half, but was knocked backward each time. When the final whistle blew, it was ATL that hit the locker room with a 21-14 victory.
Three Arrows earned their MLR debuts on Saturday evening, with Gaston Cortes, Adrian Wadden, and Jason Higgins picking up their first caps.
The Arrows enter Week Two of the 2021 season with a clash against the 1-0-0 Utah Warriors on Saturday, Mar. 27, with kickoff set for 9 p.m. ET.
Toronto Arrows Stat Leaders
Ball Carries: M. Diana – 15
Carry Metres: L. Leivas – 82
Tackles Made: T. de la Vega, L. Rumball – 12
Rugby ATL Stat Leaders
Ball Carries: B. Ezcurra – 13
Carry Metres: B. Ezcurra – 64
Tackles Made: R. Gouws – 19
Toronto Arrows Score Report
Tries: J. McRogers (2*), T. de la Vega (11)
Conversions: A. Ferguson (12)
Rugby ATL Score Report
Tries: C. Wenglewski (6), J. Momsen (22), N. Gericke (38)
Conversions: B. Ezcurra 3 (7, 23, 39)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. Rugby ATL
- Cole Keith
- Jack McRogers
- Gaston Cortes
- Adrian Wadden
- Paul Ciulini
- Tomy de la Vega
- Lucas Rumball (C)
- Manuel Diana
- Andrew Ferguson
- Tayler Adams
- Mitch Richardson
- Guiseppe du Toit
- Ben LeSage (C)
- Leandro Leivas
- Pat Parfrey
- Andrew Quattrin
- Pat Lynott
- Tyler Rowland
- Mike Sheppard
- Marcello Wainwright
- Jason Higgins
- Gaston Mieres
- Will Kelly
Header Photo Credit: Ben Weitz
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