Five Must-Watch Plays from Arrows v. Rugby ATL
The Arrows and Rugby ATL faced off in the Fire and Ice Cup on Saturday in a frenzied match that had everything from big tackles to defence-splitting passes and a fair bit of animosity. It was a back-and-forth contest all the way to the end, making for excellent viewing for the fans but ending in heartbreak for the Arrows as Rugby ATL scored with the clock in the red to win 33-29.
As is the case in rugby, the game isn’t over until the ball goes dead and Rugby ATL kept up the attacks past the regulation 80 minutes. After two minutes of wave after wave of attacks, Rugby ATL finally broke the seal and scored.
It was a tight finish to an excellent game with a number of fantastic plays on both sides of the ball for the Arrows. Defence turned to offence repeatedly for Toronto and it is team play, quick ball movement and big hits that feature prominently in this week’s Five Must-Watch Plays.
A Crushing Hit in Midfield To Start
You always want to start a game on the front foot, run a few good plays and established a solid base. There is no better way to do all of that than a crunching hit in the first five minutes. If you can generate a turnover from it, then that’s even better.
Just listen to the thud of shoulder into midriff. This hit from Gaston Mieres set the precedent for a frenetic opening 25 minutes, and what a hit it was.
Charge Down Try Catches Out Rugby ATL
Despite falling behind early, Toronto pushed Rugby ATL and forced them to clear their lines under pressure. You can see the fullback drop back to kick clear in what should be a fairly routine play.
After skirting the first Arrows defender, the clearance appears set for the ball to be pummelled into touch. Step up Lock Mike Sheppard. Literally. Sheppard uses all of his 6’4″ frame to block the kick for a try.
Defence to offence… it’s never been so easy.
Arrows Devastating Attack Punishes Rugby ATL
Here is a prime example of how the Arrows pressure teams into mistakes. The Arrows pick up the ball just inside their own 22. A little chip kicks hands back possession but it’s the Arrows’ speedy defensive line that forces a pass straight through the hands of ATL’s fullback.
By trying to generate an overlap in attack, Rugby ATL leaves acres of space for Toronto to run into. Excellent support play, a quick ruck, an inside-outside darting run and an offload equals try time.
The Arrows covered over 70 metres in 35 seconds. Talk about destructive.
Great Teamwork Results in a Classy Mieres Try
Just 12 minutes into the second half and this Arrows attack just oozes class…
A solid base from the line-out generates clean ball for the Arrows backline to play with. Rugby ATL sprints up to shut down any attack only, for Arrows fly-half Tayler Adams to dink one over the onrushing defence.
Ben LeSage snags the ball out of mid-air, draws the defender before it is two quick passes and fullback Mieres is in to score.
Arrows Tire Out Rugby ATL’s Defence
This one takes a little while to reach its crescendo, but you have to watch the deliberate and tactical excellence in the phases before the try.
Everything the Arrows do in the minute or so before Tomas de la Vega goes over the tryline is purposeful. It bamboozles the Rugby ATL defence, then punishes them at the most critical moment.
First the Arrows spread the Rugby ATL defenders wide. The quick recycled ball comes to Adams, who whips it out wide with a distraction dummy run. Leandro Leivas breaks a few tackles before it’s the forwards’ turn.
The forwards skirt around the fringes of the ruck, slowing the ball down and drawing ATL into assuming it will once again go wide. It is at that moment that de la Vega slips past an unsuspecting defence that has neglected to place blockers at the ruck.
The blindside flanker won’t get many scores easier than that in his time as an Arrow.
Despite a gutsy performance, and some excellent plays, the manner in which the Arrows lost this one will sting. It is not a time to dwell on the loss but to move forward and set the sights on a tasty matchup with the Houston Sabercats on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
About the Author:
Oliver Smith is writer, podcast host and sports fanatic. Growing up in London, England, he moved to Toronto, Canada in 2010 before graduating with Honours at Queen’s University. He has been a sports writer since 2019. Reach him on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Header Photo Credit: Ben Weitz
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