Arrows Battle Back to Secure Bonus Point in 2022 Home Opener
After 1,035 days and 30 consecutive Major League Rugby matches (regular season, playoff, preseason) away from home, the Arrows made their long-awaited return to Toronto on Saturday afternoon.
The result – a narrow 20-14 defeat to Rugby ATL – might not have been what the 2,000 fans on hand at York Lions Stadium had hoped for, but after 34 months of waiting, the scoreline was always going to play second fiddle to the momentous occasion itself.
Andrew Quattrin scored the Arrows’ first try in Toronto since June 2, 2019, and Sam Malcolm‘s three penalty goals ensured the hosts left the homecoming match with a bonus point.
Digging deep with 13 players on the injured reserve and not available for inclusion on Saturday, the Arrows matched Atlanta’s physicality in the defensively-focused opening half. With few gaps to be found, Malcolm and Kurt Coleman traded penalty goals to mark the only scoring prior to the hydration break.
The second 20-minute period saw play open up, albeit marginally. The visitors pulled ahead with Coleman’s second penalty before Will Leonard snuck through space in Toronto’s defensive line and chipped ahead to the Arrows five-metre line. Despite ample offensive support from ATL, it was Ronan Foley who came up with the ball and broke through a tackle to race up the pitch. An offload to Chris Bell briefly kept the play alive prior to the ball, along with several players, pushed out of bounds.
The aftermath of the play saw Bell in serious discomfort and unable to continue; the Cambridge alumnus – the Arrows’ only healthy scrum-half prior to kickoff, with three others currently on the IR – was forced to leave the game with a lower-body injury. Malcolm assumed scrum-half duties, while Will Kelly slotted into the fly-half position off the bench.
The score would remain 6-3 in favour of the visitors heading into the interval, with Toronto weathering a late Atlanta push to keep the deficit at three points.
The Arrows were the more motivated side coming out of the intermission, sparked by a Kelly line break minutes into the second half. A subsequent offside penalty gave Malcolm a shot at goal from 30 metres, and the Kiwi struck true to tie the match.
Shortly afterwards, Toronto had its long-anticipated try. A Malcolm kick to sideline off a penalty provided the Arrows with a 5-metre lineout; sensing an opportunity, several backs joined the driving maul, with Quattrin the man to touch down for his second tally in as many games. Malcolm’s tough conversion attempt was narrowly pushed to the right of the uprights.
Atlanta’s response came just ahead of the hour-mark. Pinned deep in their own territory, repeat Arrows infringements saw James O’Neill become the fall guy when he was issued a yellow card. With a man advantage, the visitors’ scrum barged the final five metres to allow Jason Damm to finish off the back.
Rugby ATL struck again before O’Neill could return to the pitch, with the forwards once again making the most of their numerical superiority. A five-metre lineout drive saw substitute Marko Janse van Rensburg dot down after a big push from the pack. Coleman’s second conversion made it a two-score game for the visitors.
Urged on by the home supporters, the Arrows appeared to have scored an unconventional try before it was ultimately chalked off by the TMO. From within his own in-goal area, Atlanta’s Austin White endeavoured to run the ball out, but was harried and caught. Replays showed that he let go of the ball prior to being pushed into touch, and it appeared to be grounded by both Foley and Kelly, but the TMO adjudged it had been brought into touch by an Arrows player and instead gave a goal-line drop-out to the visitors.
Malcolm’s third goal of the day cut the deficit to six points minutes later, and the hosts quickly marched back into Atlanta’s half. However, the comeback bid was cut short when the referee dinged the Arrows for a breakdown penalty 10 metres from the whitewash. ATL cleared the pressure and staved off a final Toronto push to claim the road victory.
Toronto (4-4; 20 points) enters Week 10 of the season with a home clash against Old Glory (0-7; 1 point*) on Saturday, April 9. The Eastern Conference meeting will be played at York Lions Stadium, and will kick off at 12 p.m. ET.
Tickets are available for purchase via AXS, the official ticketing partner of the Toronto Arrows, on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. Single game tickets start as low as $15 and are available for all home games in 2022.
*at time of publication
Toronto Arrows Stat Leaders:
Ball Carries: Ronan Foley – 14
Carry Metres: Ronan Foley – 129
Tackles Made: Cole Keith – 19
Offloads: Ronan Foley – 2
Rugby ATL Stat Leaders:
Ball Carries: Will Leonard – 11
Carry Metres: Te Rangatira Waitokia – 97
Tackles Made: Jason Damm – 20
Offloads: Five Players – 1
Toronto Arrows Score Report:
Tries: Andrew Quattrin (49)
Penalty Goals: Sam Malcolm 3 (10, 44, 71)
Rugby ATL Score Report:
Tries: Jason Damm (58), Marco Janse van Rensburg (66)
Conversions: Kurt Coleman 2 (59, 67)
Penalty Goals: Kurt Coleman 2 (19, 25)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. Rugby ATL:
- Cole Keith
- Andrew Quattrin
- Isaac Salmon
- Mike Sheppard (C)
- Paul Ciulini
- Lucas Rumball
- James O’Neill
- Ronan Foley
- Chris Bell
- Sam Malcolm
- Mitch Richardson
- Guiseppe du Toit
- Ueta Tufuga
- John Sheridan
- Conor McCann
- Jack McRogers
- Lolani Faleiva
- Tyler Rowland
- Kyle Baillie
- Ollie Nott
- Mitch Voralek
- Marcello Wainwright
- Will Kelly
Header Photo Credit: Jose Romelo Lagman
Arrows Look to End Road Stretch On a High in Dallas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ARLINGTON, TX – Toronto Arrows Head Coach Peter Smith
Torrance-Read to Miss Remainder of 2023 Season with Torn ACL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Arrows confirmed today that
Week 6 Milestone Tracker: Shep Becomes Appearances Leader, Hits 500 Tackles
The following club career milestones were achieved by our players during the
Toronto Arrows Sign Canadian Sevens-Experienced Backs Bowen, Fatoric
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Arrows are pleased to
Broadcast Details: Toronto Arrows vs. Dallas Jackals (April 1, 2023)
Details for how to watch our upcoming away match against the Dallas