Toronto Finds Form to Double Up DC
By Evan Lappen
After an impressive start to its second MLR season, Old Glory DC was humbled as the Toronto Arrows showed their true potential for a 40-19 road victory at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va. Toronto was opportunistic from the onset and deployed an accurate and clinical approach to both sides of the ball. Old Glory started the game a bit flat and never really recovered. DC was able to gain some momentum in the second half but was too deep in the hole to mount a comeback. Old Glory now enters the bye week with a 1-1-1 record and will travel to Rugby United New York on April 18th.
“We finally got some of the rust off and showed how we can play rugby,” Toronto head coach Chris Silverthorn said. “We just needed to play with energy, play our game, and keep getting go forward ball. We are better than what we showed in the first two weeks… Our defense put pressure on Old Glory, and through our attack, building phases, and pressure, we were able to break down their defense.”
“Toronto came out really well and we were a little bit off,” player/coach Callum Gibbins said. “Before we knew it, we were 15 points behind and that’s quite hard to come back from. I think we showed a little bit towards the end, but we needed more urgency throughout the game. We can’t just expect to come out and win without hard work.”
The Arrows played like a team whose season was on the line and were desperate for a win. OGDC was not able to match the intensity and Toronto took full advantage.
The Arrows stressed DC’s rookie flyhalf and wings with precise tactical kicking, and the OGs were unable to relieve the pressure. This caused a series of miscues, errors, and penalties which seemed to affect Old Glory’s confidence. The infractions and handling errors continued to grow and the line speed decreased.
Old Glory came out the gate on fire, but after an early flurry, very little went its way. DC squandered early scoring opportunities, and some clever kicking and counterattacks put Toronto on the front foot. After a series of poor defensive decisions and penalties, the Arrows hit successive tries from Tyler Rowland and Manuel Diana. A conversion and penalty from Tayler Adams pushed the lead to 15-0 after 18 minutes of play.
The Arrows were aggressive at the breakdown and in loose play, and DC didn’t have an answer to its opponent’s high-energy game plan. Penalty after penalty disrupted any rhythm for Old Glory.
Late in the half and down a man after Stan South was carded, the forwards provided the backs with a good scrum platform from 30 meters out. After peppering the Arrows’ defense throughout the half, Thretton Palamo found daylight and took a crash ball through five defenders for the 40-meter score. Danny Tusitala’s conversion made it 15-7 with a minute left in the half.
DC hoped to go into halftime with the momentum; however, Toronto had other ideas. A bad pass out wide was collected by the Arrows. With no time left, the road team kept it in the middle of the field and Adams slotted a successful drop goal to finish the first period, 18-7.
The second half started as well as the first half had ended for Toronto. A minute into the half, the Toronto lineout was spun wide, where Ben LeSage broke the line for a 20-meter try under the posts.
Old Glory appeared to regain its composure with ball in hand. The offense made strides into Toronto’s half with the addition of Callum Gibbins and the sharp kicking of Renata Roberts-Te Nana, but again DC coughed up the ball or committed unnecessary penalties to thwart its progress.
DC finally got on the same page and a pair of bruising runs from Mikey Sosene-Feagai and Gibbins set up the home squad with a lineout ten meters out. Old Glory mauled it to the five-meter line and Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz bulldozed the rest of the way for the try. Tusitala’s conversion from the sideline was wide cutting the lead to 13 with about 20 minutes left.
DC looked to be on the front foot entering enemy territory, but the Arrows defense led by Lucas Rumball stopped the assault. After a failed grubber, it was Toronto on the attack. Following a lineout, Toronto went wide across the field and Gastón Mieres scored in the corner. With all the momentum back to the Arrows, DC turned it over again. A fabulous interplay between LeSage and Joaquín Tuculet down the sideline set Jason Higgins free for his team’s second try in two minutes.
Head coach Andrew Douglas emptied his bench in the final 15 minutes and James King scored from short range in the 78th minute. Toronto’s Will Kelly tacked on a penalty on the final play to seal the 40-19 win.
Thretton Palamo broke down the game into one word, “Attitude. You can have all the game plans in the world but Toronto definitely showed they wanted that game a lot more than us… Obviously, this is a reality check. Full credit to Toronto for bringing it to us.”
Old Glory has two weeks to recuperate and hopefully the return of Jason Robertson and Ciaran Hearn will get DC back on the winning track.
“I’d love to not have the bye week, to be honest,” Gibbins concluded. “I’d like to go to work on Monday and get cracking to another game, but the bye week has come at a time where we can reflect on the first few games and work out what we want to do from there. We just need to be better across the board, look after the ball, defend better, make our tackles, and just have the energy to play.”