Old Glory mount playoffs charge with dominant Toronto Arrows victory


Week five of the 2023 MLR season saw Old Glory DC return to Segra Field to host challengers from a land of moose and maple syrup in the form of the Toronto Arrows, with the match proving to be a rather sticky affair for the away side.

Old Glory fielded a much-changed team to that which started against the Free Jacks last time out, with new signing Ramiro Herrera returning to the front row alongside Jack Iscaro, and DC native Owen Sheehy starting on the wing for the first time in 2023.

The match kicked off at sundown, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown reminiscent of an old Western standoff. Toronto got on the board early, with Sam Malcolm kicking a penalty to take a 0-3 lead after just three minutes. Unfortunately for the visitors, however, the OGs responded with gusto, and went on to shut Toronto out for the following 77 minutes of play.

As Old Glory grew into the game, two themes of our season returned to centre stage: Tito Diaz Bonilla’s seemingly laser guided kicking and a physically dominant defence.

Bonilla has proved to be a Rolls Royce of a signing, with his international experience showing plainly in his deft territorial kicks and creative flair. To say that he caused Toronto headaches would be an understatement, he sent the Arrows home with chronic migraines and tails between their legs.

As Tito dictated the attack, the DC defence matched his energy and gave the Arrows no room to breathe. On countless occasions, Toronto picked up the ball in the middle of the park and hit out phase after phase, gaining negligible territory. On the few occasions where mistakes were exploited, DC recovered with professionalism and class, totally shutting down all their opponents’ creative outlets.

These factors combined to see Old Glory bag their first try soon after falling behind, scoring with a textbook lineout set piece. Bonilla kicked a penalty into the corner and we won the resultant lineout, forming into a maul and driving over the line in seconds, in what has become a favourite scoring strategy for the team in 2023. Bonilla buried the conversion (was it ever in doubt?), and Old Glory were firmly in the driving seat.

The lads carried the momentum, continuing to cause frustration for Toronto and forcing mistakes, one of which saw eight-man Eadie sent to the sin bin for knocking the ball out of Tusitala’s hands. Tito scored the resultant penalty, giving Old Glory a 10-3 lead at halftime.

The power play continued in the second period, with Old Glory taking full advantage of the extra man to score in the corner through Marcos Young just minutes after halftime. The move began with a scrum on the right wing, from which we passed through the hands of six of our seven backs on the way to the try.

Other chances came and went before Willy Talataina barged his way into the in goal to score our third of the night. Old Glory got close and hit the beach for several phases, refusing to take no for an answer. This try was as much a moral victory as a physical one, as the scoreline moved up to 22-3 and the game seemed well and truly out of reach for Toronto.

We scored one more through Danny Tusitala, however, just for good measure. Our fourth try of the evening secured the win and an all-important bonus point, which saw us temporarily move to the top of the MLR Eastern Conference.

Next time out we will host NOLA Gold at Segra Field, as we look to extend our perfect home form and move top of the Eastern Conference.

-by Arthur Ferridge

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