Five Must-Watch Plays from Arrows v. Houston
After two heartbreaking losses, the Arrows stormed back into the win column with an attritional 19-10 victory over the Houston SaberCats. In front of a raucous Houston crowd, Toronto was able to get in front on the scoreboard and stay there.
Toronto’s last two games against NOLA and Rugby ATL had all of the speed and panache that rugby fans crave. Against the SaberCats however, Toronto played a considered, brutal game. It was 80 minutes of big tackles, punishing rucks and fiercely-contested line-outs. The most hotly-contested was the scrum, which was a focal point throughout, as both teams fought for supremacy.
As always with the Arrows, there were a few touches of class and speed in this one. It is determined team play, excellent phase and ball control and teamwork that features heavily in this week’s Five Must-Watch Plays. Check them out below!
Turnovers Ain’t But a Thing
The Arrows dominated the opening sequences of this game but couldn’t quite find that last pass to make it count. Watch below as the Arrows’ control of the breakdown gives them an overlap on the right. Houston shuffles across quickly and ends up making a tackle just before their five-metre line.
The Houston tackle results in a turnover but Arrows defenders are on the man quickly, driving him into touch. This kind of unrelenting pressure typified the Arrows game on Saturday.
Strong Scrum Sets the Base
Remember how it was mentioned the scrum was a focal point in the game? Well here is one of the first big parts it played.
Just five metres out from the SaberCats’ try-line and the Arrows’ strong base from the scrum launches their attack.
It is two passes and a crash ball to suck defenders in; then it’s simple ball through the hands and Montero goes over once again. Toronto makes their early pressure pay.
Phases on Phases on Phases
To win playing rugby you have to do a lot of things right, and make few mistakes. Everyone knows about scoring tries, making your kicks count, not taking too many penalties or missing tackles. What isn’t always thought of is how crucial the number of phases is to an attack.
We all love the flashy breakaway tries, but it isn’t always that easy. This next clip is about a minute long but Toronto doesn’t score without every phase they put together. It’s worth the watch to see how Toronto uses different methods of attack. From crash balls to them whipping it wide one way, it runs the SaberCats ragged. The Arrows slowly ratchet up the pressure on Houston, and then find the gap. Try time!
In a just one minute and 10 seconds, the Arrows use six different variations in attack. Re-watch it and see if you can spot the different methods they use.
Yes, it is another scrum, but this one doesn’t go the way of the Arrows. This big play is all about how the Arrows reacted.
Conceding a scrum penalty is incredibly tough because you’re effectively down eight men on defence. At the very least your props, hooker and locks are all still bound together and you’re already on the backfoot.
This scramble defence from the Arrows is exceptional, and it has featured in other Five Must-Watch Plays for good reason. From a weak spot the Arrows concede about 30 metres and that’s it. No try, no missed tackles, just smothering defence.
A Touch of Class
Watch this one the whole way through…
Try saving moments don’t come around often, but they sure do add drama. A SaberCats try there would have put them within two points and set up the game for a grandstand finish. Instead, the Arrows would tack on another converted try and put the game out of reach for Houston. Without this play, it could have been a whole different ballgame.
It really is a touch of class from Gaston Mieres.
In the East, the fourth-placed Arrows are back in amongst the wins and it’s a battle between 4th and 5th next. Toronto hold a one-point advantage over the New England Free Jacks, but the Free Jacks have a game in hand. This must watch match-up is on May 29, kickoff at 4 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: Federica Boffano
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