Sloppy Toronto Arrows lose second straight to open Major League Rugby season – Pique Newsmagazine

HERRIMAN, Utah — The Toronto Arrows fell to 0-2-0 after a sloppy performance in a 39-24 loss to the Utah Warriors in Major League Rugby play on Saturday.

The Arrows, still showing rust from a pre-season limited by COVID-19 protocols back home, trailed 20-3 after a penalty-filled first half. A short-lived second-half comeback was not enough as Utah improved to 2-0-0.

Jason Higgins, Tayler Adams and Manuel Diana scored tries for Toronto. Adams added a penalty and three conversions.

Sama Malolo scored two tries while Lance Williams, Mikey Te’o and Vancouver’s Fraser Hurst added singles for Utah. New Zealand-born German international Hagen Schulte kicked two penalties and four conversions.

Utah finished with 13 men after winger Josh Whippy was red-carded in the 74th minute for a high tackle and replacement Joe Mano was sin-binned for the same offence in the 78th.

Diana added a consolation try for Toronto in the 80th minute.

Hurst, a former Canadian under-20 player, came on in the 22nd minute, replacing injured scrum half Michael Baska. He turned heads in the 70th minute, beating three Toronto defenders on a lengthy solo run to pad Utah’s lead to 39-17. 

Toronto lost its season opener 21-14 loss at Rugby ATL last weekend. Utah won on the road, edging Austin 30-28.

The Arrows have set up shop in Atlanta due to pandemic-related border restrictions, sharing facilities with Rugby ATL.

Toronto was without Argentine prop Gaston Cortes, sent off in his Toronto debut last weekend, while second-row forward Paul Ciulini had a hamstring injury.

Cole Keith switched from loosehead prop to tighthead to replace Cortes with Pat Lynott moving into the No. 1 jersey. Keith played tighthead for the team last year. Mike Sheppard started in place of Ciulini.

Penalties cost the Arrows early. Utah’s Schulte opened the scoring with a long-range penalty kick in the ninth minute, adding another in the 16th. Adams cut the Utah lead to 6-3 with a Toronto penalty from in-close in the 23rd minute.

A booming Schulte penalty kick into touch set the Warriors up with a lineout on the five-metre line and Malolo, an Australian hooker who played for the junior Wallabies in the World U-20 Championship in 2017 and ’18, powered over for the 31st-minute try. The conversion gave Utah a 13-3 lead.

Two more penalties pinned the Arrows deep in their half and Williams touched down in the 38th minute as the Utah forwards bulled their way forward for a 20-3 lead.

Malolo went over again in the 46th minute, setting up the score with his own line break, to increase the lead to 27-3 with the converted try.

Toronto then reeled off two converted tries to cut the deficit to 27-17.

Toronto finally crossed the Utah line in the 52nd minute, with Adams beating several defenders from in-close to cap off a move by the Arrows forwards. Higgins scored three minutes later, taking a pass from Tomy de la Vega after a fine Toronto line break.

Te’o, a U.S. international winger, responded with a set move try for a bonus point in the 62nd minute after another Arrows penalty moved the Warriors close to the Toronto goal-line. A 69th-minute Toronto try was called back for offside.

The Arrows match-day 23 included eight Canadian internationals and three internationals each from Argentina and Uruguay

Argentine fullback Joaquin Tuculet made his debut for the Arrows while Higgins made his first start. Argentine back Manuel Montero made his Arrows debut of the bench in the second half.

Tuculet, 31, has won 56 caps and scored 18 tries for Argentina. The 29-year-old Montero, a load of a winger at six foot four and 240 pounds, has 27 caps and 16 tries for the Pumas.

The Warriors were cleared for more than 75-per-cent capacity seating at Zions Bank Stadium, with stunning snow-capped mountains in the background. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2021

The Canadian Press

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