Rugby ATL Score Last-Gasp Try to Claim Fire & Ice Cup Over Arrows
The Fire and Ice Cup will stay south of the border for the remainder of 2021, with Rugby ATL defeating the Toronto Arrows 33-29 in a thrilling back-and-forth tilt this past Saturday. The meeting went down to the wire, with a Ross Deacon try on the final play of the match proving to be the difference-maker in the inaugural Cup clash.
Regardless of their ‘away side’ designation, the hosts started stronger out of the gates, due in large part to an early man advantage; Andrew Quattrin was issued a yellow card just two minutes into the match for having been deemed to collapse an early Atlanta maul. The following drive was successful, with Marko Janse van Rensburg bowling over for the initial score of the match.
Despite playing a man short, the Arrows flipped the script and took a shock lead just minutes later. Adriaan Carelse’s would-be clearance kick from just outside his goal line was charged down by Mike Sheppard, who deftly plucked up the ball and dotted down for the blue-collar try.
A second tally in as many minutes was scored by Ben LeSage, who was sent clear after Gaston Mieres sucked in three Atlanta defenders deep in the hosts’ territory before springing the captain. Tayler Adams added the extras on both tries, putting Toronto ahead 14-5 shortly before Quattrin returned to the pitch.
The pendulum swung back in Atlanta’s favour later in the half, with two tries in the final 10 minutes of the opening frame putting Rugby ATL ahead entering the interval. Jason Damm notched the first after a strong run off the back of an attacking five-metre scrum, and Mark O’Keeffe got the go-ahead score late in the half via an impressive, evasive 50-metre run.
The second half began much like the first, with Janse van Rensburg scoring a near-identical try off a powerful maul just minutes after kickoff.
Down by 12, Toronto was in need of a creative spark, and it came through a clever midfield chip off the boot of Adams. The ball was tidily caught by LeSage, distributed to Leandro Leivas, who then sent his countryman Mieres down the sideline for a try in the corner. The try was the 11th in Arrows colours for the speedy Uruguayan, tying Dan Moor for the all-time franchise lead.
Toronto struck again 10 minutes later, with the observant Tomas de la Vega noticing ample space at an uncontested ruck a metre from the goal line. Adams hit the conversion, drawing the score level at 26 apiece.
The Arrows took a three-point lead at the 75-minute mark, as Adams ignored the crowd’s jeers to coolly split the uprights from 45 metres out.
With a late scrum awarded to Toronto, victory appeared to be in sight for the nomadic Arrows; however, heartbreak soon followed. Toronto won the scrum cleanly and Manuel Diana ran off the back, but the league-leader in carries found himself in too much space, and without ample support in tow, the ball was conceded. With Cup honours on their mind, Rugby ATL kicked to the corner instead of at the posts; minutes later, Deacon barged over to close the curtains on a pulsating nine-try affair.
Toronto enters Week Nine of the 2021 season with an away clash against Houston (2-5; 13 points) on Saturday, May 15, marking the last of nine straight matches before the Arrows’ first bye week of the campaign.
Toronto Arrows Stat Leaders
Ball Carries: M. Diana – 19
Carry Metres: L. Leivas – 97
Tackles Made: T. de la Vega – 14
Offloads: M. Diana, G. Mieres – 4
Rugby ATL Stat Leaders
Ball Carries: J. Damm – 16
Carry Metres: M. O’Keeffe – 121
Tackles Made: M. Heaton, M. Redelinghuys – 13
Offloads: Eight players – 1
Toronto Arrows Score Report
Tries: M. Sheppard (7), B. LeSage (9), G. Mieres (53), T. de la Vega (63)
Conversions: T. Adams 3 (8, 10, 64)
Penalty Goals: T. Adams (75)
Rugby ATL Score Report
Tries: M. Janse van Rensburg 2 (4, 43), J. Damm (31), M. O’Keeffe (36), R. Deacon (80)
Conversions: A. Carelse 4 (32, 37, 44, 80)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. Rugby ATL
- Cole Keith
- Andrew Quattrin
- Gaston Cortes
- Mason Flesch
- Mike Sheppard
- Tomas de la Vega
- Lucas Rumball (C)
- Manuel Diana
- Ross Braude
- Tayler Adams
- Manuel Montero
- Pat Parfrey
- Ben LeSage (C)
- Leandro Leivas
- Gaston Mieres
- Jack McRogers
- Pat Lynott
- Tyler Rowland
- Adrian Wadden
- Kolby Francis
- Jason Higgins
- Spencer Jones
- Will Kelly
Header Photo Credit: Ben Weitz
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