Free Jacks Pip Arrows in First Meeting
The New England Free Jacks claimed victory in their first-ever meeting with Toronto, earning a 14-12 win over the visiting Arrows at Union Point Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Played in difficult, rainy conditions, the match was remarkably even through the full 80 minutes, featuring 50% / 50% possession, 50% / 50% territory, 95% (TOR) / 92% tackle completion, and 16.9 (TOR) / 16.8 (NE) attacking minutes.
After an initial spell of back-and-forth play, Beaudein Waaka opened the scoring at the nine-minute mark with a penalty goal; he coolly doubled the Free Jacks’ lead just two minutes later, again via the boot.
Following New England’s double-barreled scoring burst, the Arrows wasted little time responding. A turnover at the breakdown following the restart saw Toronto regain possession, and Will Kelly‘s flat pass to a fully-charged Adrian Wadden sprung the rangy lock for an unimpeded 30-metre run to the try zone. Kelly’s conversion pushed the visitors up by one, though the lead would be short-lived.
Waaka added a third penalty minutes later, putting the Free Jacks back ahead. The 9-7 scoreline would hold until the interval, with slippery conditions wreaking havoc upon pace of play and continuity.
Both sides traded chances in the early stages of the second half. The first came via a Harrison Boyle grubber kick that trickled deep into Toronto territory. Waaka was first to the ball, but bobbled it forward just inches from the goal line, and the Arrows were eventually able to clear. Minutes later a Ben LeSage line break brought Toronto comfortably into New England’s half and earned the visitors a shot at goal, but Kelly’s kick struck the post and cruelly bounced out.
New England opened the second-half scoring at the hour-mark through a barging pick-and-go tally from captain Josh Larsen. The extra-points attempt from Waaka hit the upright and stayed out, keeping the Free Jacks’ lead at seven points.
Once again Toronto responded after conceding. Back into Free Jacks territory, snappy passes from Tayler Adams, Patrick Parfrey, and LeSage found Joaquin Tuculet along the touchline. The 56-cap Puma then deked through three would-be tacklers to score in the corner, but Adams’ difficult conversion attempt along the sideline was pushed to the right of the posts, leaving the Arrows two points short.
Toronto appeared to have completed the comeback moments before the final whistle. What looked to be the winning try from Tomas de la Vega on a barging push across the try line was ultimately reversed and called back, with the referee instead penalizing the Argentine for not being in a legal position to score following the previous ruck. The Free Jacks held possession for the final seconds before kicking the ball to touch and bringing the match to a close.
Toronto enters Week 12 of the 2021 season with a ‘home’ clash against San Diego (4-6; 24 points) on Sunday, June 6. With both teams on identical records, the two sides will look to jump ahead in the standings with a win at Life University in Marietta, GA.
Toronto Arrows Stat Leaders
Ball Carries: L. Rumball – 13
Carry Metres: A. Wadden, B. LeSage – 54
Tackles Made: P. Ciulini – 11
Offloads: M. Diana – 2
New England Free Jacks Stat Leaders
Ball Carries: D. Fife – 11
Carry Metres: H. Barlow – 67
Tackles Made: W. Conradie – 23
Offloads: J. Poland – 1
Toronto Arrows Score Report
Tries: A. Wadden (12), J. Tuculet (65)
Conversions: W. Kelly (13)
New England Free Jacks Score Report
Tries: J. Larsen (60)
Penalty Goals: B. Waaka 3 (9, 11, 19)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. New England Free Jacks
- Pat Lynott
- Andrew Quattrin
- Tyler Rowland
- Adrian Wadden
- Paul Ciulini
- Tomas de la Vega
- Lucas Rumball (C)
- Manuel Diana
- Ross Braude
- Will Kelly
- Gaston Mieres
- Spencer Jones
- Ben LeSage (C)
- Manuel Montero
- Pat Parfrey
- Jack McRogers
- Cole Keith
- Marc-Antoine Ouellet
- Mike Sheppard
- Kolby Francis
- Andrew Ferguson
- Joaquin Tuculet
- Tayler Adams
Header Photo Credit: Justin Walker
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