Five Must-Watch Plays from Arrows v. Free Jacks
The month of May was a long one for the Toronto Arrows. Three tough games meant Toronto needed a win against New England in order to finish 2-2. Rugby is a game of fine margins, and despite a valiant effort, the Arrows fell just short against the New England Free Jacks with a 14-12 loss.
All four games the Arrows played in May finished within nine points or fewer. Two of those games (New England and Rugby ATL) finished with the teams separated by just two and four points respectively.
The 14-12 loss to the Free Jacks was a brutally physical game as both teams tossed everything at one another. The set pieces became a battle ground, the gain line a mission to get over. It was a fantastic contest in what would turn into miserable conditions.
This edition of the Five Must-Watch Plays predominantly features the defence. As always with a Toronto Arrows performance, there’s that sprinkle of elite talent and smashing offence to bring you to your feet. Check it out below.
Toronto Arrows Straight Back on the Attack
The Arrows had spent a lot of the opening minutes of the game on the back foot as New England established their intent early. Just 11 minutes into the game and Toronto was down by 6-0.
Check out this clip, where the Arrows pressure straight from the kickoff – something that is notoriously hard to do without giving away a penalty. That instant pressure catches New England out, causing a turnover. Then all it takes is three rucks and a flat pass. Watch this magic unfold.
After the Arrows find themselves down by six, just 30 seconds later, they score a try to take the lead.
Conditions Start to Change the Game
Okay, so this one isn’t the most glamorous highlight, but it serves a purpose. That is, the disintegrating conditions that changed the game, and this highlights the tactical nous of the Toronto Arrows.
You can see the rain on the camera, and with a line-out on the opponent’s five-metre there is always the temptation to toss it into the middle and look for the driving maul over the line.
In those conditions that option has potential turnover written all over it. Instead the Toronto Arrows play it smart. Toss the ball in to the front, recycle it quickly to the back of the maul, and try to catch the opposing forwards out.
This time it didn’t work, but Toronto won a penalty from it and for any young hookers looking at line-out practices, look no further.
Quick Hands = Try Time!
The headline says it all…
Try-Saving Tackle Bails out the Forwards
With just under 15 minutes left, the game is in the balance. A dominant scrum from New England has Toronto on the back foot… so much so that without a crucial tackle it would likely have seen New England extend its lead.
Even with the advantage to the Free Jacks, this tackle by Ben LeSage kept Toronto in the game.
Try Line Defence Creates Turnover
The Arrows and Free Jacks went back and forth for the last 20 minutes of the game. No team was closer to scoring (prior to Toronto’s last push) than the Free Jacks in this clip below. Just watch how tough this Toronto defence is to break down.
Time after time New England attacks to no avail. Big hit after big hit is delivered from the Arrows, and eventually, they win a penalty.
The defence can be happy after that.
Even in a losing cause, it is the grit, resilience and straight up refusal to give in that characterizes this team. The clip above exemplifies all that it means to be a Toronto Arrow.
The Toronto Arrows kick off June with a game against the San Diego Legion. San Diego sit two places above the Arrows in the overall standings, despite being just one point ahead. The Legion are coming off a 39 – 11 victory over Houston, who Toronto also beat in May. The Arrows will look to bounce back on June 6 at 12 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: Justin Walker
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