Five Must-Watch Plays from Arrows v. New York
The Toronto Arrows fell to Rugby United New York in a close affair on Saturday, 31-24. Despite a converted Arrows try either side of half time, a three-try, 18-minute spell in the first half saw New York pull away.
The Arrows had one over New York already this season having crushed Rugby United 53-12 in late April. Much like the first game it was a physical battle from the off. However, Toronto couldn’t match the same offensive output that saw them score 50+ points in back-to-back games in April.
Nonetheless, it was a valiant effort from Toronto, who were without a number of internationals for the match. Not for a lack of trying, as always the Arrows showed heart; rugby is won and lost on fine margins, and this game was filled with them.
This week’s Five Must-Watch Plays starts with a bang, highlights the Arrows’ ever-present silky offence, and showcases one play that nearly allowed Toronto to steal the game late.
Set the Tone Early
Every coach talks about wanting to start fast. They want a high tempo from the off. Establish a solid base and get off on the right foot, or in this case, deliver a crunching tackle.
Forget getting off on the right foot, this hit removed both feet from the ground. Oh, and it was only five seconds in.
Defence to Offence in the Blink of an Eye
This first Arrows try comes from a quick defensive line that pressures Rugby United into a mistake.
The Arrows almost turn it over at the first attempt in the tackle. Then another fast defensive line ramps up the pressure on New York, who make the critical mistake and the Arrows pounce.
Excellently scooped up on Toronto’s 10-metre line, it winds up being a rather easy trot to the try for Joaquin Tuculet.
Red Clock Specialists
The Arrows are becoming one of the best teams in Major League Rugby at playing with the clock in the red. They did this against Austin as well, scoring well into the red.
Against Austin, the Arrows benefited from the Gilgronis opting not to kick the ball into touch. Here, the Arrows had control of the ball from a lineout as the clock ticked past 40 minutes. It was then 2:25 of suffocating forward play before Mike Sheppard caught out an exhausted New York defence.
Arrows Force Another Mistake
This clip has a lot going on, and it’s lengthy, so let’s break it down.
First the Arrows force New York into conceding the penalty at the scrum, but the ensuing Toronto line-out is wayward. The Arrows knock it on, giving the advantage to New York.
This is where Toronto’s lasting class comes into play.
A duffed New York clearance ends their advantage and the ball doesn’t go far enough to relieve any pressure. The Arrows hit back quickly against an unorganized kick chase. Then all it needs is a fantastic bit of passing and Mitch Richardson cuts into Rugby United’s lead.
Toronto Almost Steal It at the Death
Fine margins were mentioned at the start of this week’s Five Must-Watch Plays, and you don’t get much closer than this…
Adrian Wadden comes within inches of touching this ball down for a try. He did all of the hard work to charge the kick down… just look how close he was to the ball.
If Wadden scores there, and the kick is converted, the Arrows would have drawn level at 31-31. It was one bounce too many, and as we have seen, the Arrows just aren’t getting the bounces go their way right now.
The Arrows have just two games left in the regular season, with their penultimate test coming against Old Glory DC. Toronto dominated Old Glory last time the two sides faced off, running out 40-19 victors. Both teams have endured a difficult patch of games; Old Glory has won just two in their last seven, while Toronto has gone 1-6 in the same stretch. Tune in Sunday, July 4; kickoff is set for 6 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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