Following a narrow defeat to the New England Free Jack’s in week three, Old Glory return to Segra Field to host the Toronto Arrows in what will be the team’s first home match since opening day.
Despite only having played one match at Segra Field this season, the OG’s will be looking to build on their perfect home record in 2023. Their home opener back in February saw the side triumph over MLR’s newest side, the Chicago Hounds, running rampant with a 42-27 victory. The team has struggled since then, enduring difficult on-the-road losses to both Rugby New York and the New England Free Jacks, leaving the side with a 1-2 record and sitting fourth in the MLR Eastern Conference.
The Arrows, however, currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference, with the same record as Old Glory but half as many points scored. This bodes well for the OGs, who, despite their negative record, have scored as many tries in their opening three matches as Toronto have conceded.
Toronto’s maiden 2023 victory came in the same fashion as Old Glory’s, scraping a result against the Chicago Hounds in week three by a score of 26-27. Defeats have come at the hands of Rugby ATL and New York Ironworkers, against whom Toronto managed to score just three points. Toronto are yet to play a home match, with Saturday’s Old Glory face off marking their fourth consecutive road trip.
Old Glory’s most effective attacking weapon against New York and New England has been the kicking game and forward pack. Pumas fly-half Tito Diaz Bonilla’s kicking in Quincy made up yards throughout the match, both from open play and penalties, winning close lineouts and creating the opportunities for two of our tries. He also assisted William Talataina’s opening try with an inch-perfect cross field ball and went five for five on kicks at the posts. Bonilla is third in the MLR for points scored, with 31 points to his name, 38% of the team’s points this season. The forwards have also dominated recent matches, bringing out some impressive defensive showings against New England, and the lineout-maul combination creating regular try scoring opportunities. Ramiro Herrera will be one to watch after an impressive cameo in the dying stages of the Free Jack’s match very nearly saw Old Glory snatch a win at the death.
In the case of Toronto, all but eight of their points have been scored by one man: fly-half and captain Sam Malcolm. The Kiwi is playing his fourth season for the Arrows and is the MLR’s third top points scorer of all time (320), with his resume boasting pinpoint kicking, hard carries, and no-nonsense defending, recording an impressive 87.8% tackle success rate. Old Glory will have a tricky job on their hands to neutralize the #10, who may constitute one of our toughest defensive challenges yet.
Despite coming into this game with back-to-back losses, Old Glory’s recent performances have been rather promising, and facing Toronto’s less-than-watertight defence could see the OGs bring home a much-needed result at Segra Field. With the Eastern Conference being as tight as it is, with the top four teams separated by just three points, an Old Glory win could see the side move as high as second in the table. The push for the playoffs starts here!
-by Arthur Ferridge