Arrows Fall to Reigning Champs Giltinis in Long-Awaited Return to Canada
A strong second-half performance from the LA Giltinis saw the defending champions bounce back from an early deficit to defeat the Toronto Arrows 31-16 at Starlight Stadium on Friday night.
The Arrows’ Langford, B.C.-based 2022 ‘home’ opener marked two significant occasions for the club and league, representing the first Major League Rugby match held in a province outside of Ontario, as well as the first MLR game played in Canada since June 2, 2019 — a span of 985 days.
Buoyed by partisan crowd, the Arrows were the more motivated side out of the gates. Will Kelly slotted an early penalty and Ross Braude looked to have scored minutes later, but the scrum-half was ruled to have been held up in goal. A second penalty attempt was pushed wide, but captain Mike Sheppard charged down a errant clearance attempt deep in Giltinis territory to score untouched under the posts and send the home side 10 points clear.
The Giltinis fired back on a drive that was started by a powerful run from Andrew Tuala, with the ball ultimately battered across from short range by Angus Cottrell. However, Luke Burton’s conversion was charged down by the quick-thinking Matthew Hood, who burst off the whitewash to block the attempted two-pointer.
The Arrows responded with back-to-back penalty goals from Spencer Jones and Kelly, but LA answered immediately; after marching back down the pitch, Cottrell muscled in under the uprights for his second score of the match.
Swooping right back into Toronto territory off the restart, the Giltinis sent wave after wave of forward assaults at the Arrows line, but the defense held strong and was able to keep the scoreline at 16-12 in favour of the home Arrows.
LA was first on the scoreboard in the second frame, claiming its first lead of the match through a try from an open Will Chambers along the left touchline — a lead the Giltinis would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
The Arrows counter-volley was stopped short, but the Giltinis’ defensive stand saw Jordan Trainor yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on. Despite the numerical advantage, Toronto was unable to capitalize on the power play; a healthy chunk of the Arrows’ 10-minute sin bin advantage was chewed up by a Hanco Germishuys try and Burton conversion.
Out of the final hydration break, the visitors held the lion’s share of possession and territory throughout the final quarter of the match, suppressing Toronto within its own end to dash any hopes of a late Arrows spark.
A late insurance marker from Harrison Goddard proved to be the exclamation mark of Los Angeles’ second-half comeback.
Three players made their Arrows debut in Week 2, with Hood starting and Chris Bell and Taitusi Vikilani coming off the bench.
Toronto enters Week 3 of the 2022 season with an away clash against the NOLA Gold (0-2; 1 point) on Saturday, February 18. The Eastern Conference meeting will be played at The Gold Mine in Metairie, LA, and will kick off at 8 p.m. ET.
Toronto Arrows Stat Leaders:
Ball Carries: Spencer Jones – 10
Carry Metres: Matt Hood – 183
Tackles Made: Lucas Rumball – 22
Offloads: Mitch Richardson – 2
Los Angeles Giltinis Stat Leaders:
Ball Carries: Billy Meakes – 19
Carry Metres: Billy Meakes – 199
Tackles Made: Ben LeSage, Andrew Tuala – 14
Offloads: Harrison Goddard, Ben LeSage – 2
Toronto Arrows Score Report:
Tries: Mike Sheppard (13*)
Penalty Goals: Will Kelly (2, 24), S. Jones (21)
Los Angeles Giltinis Score Report:
Tries: Angus Cottrell 2 (17, 27*), Will Chambers (48), Hanco Germishuys (59), H. Goddard (71)
Conversions: Luke Burton 2 (60, 72)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. Los Angeles Giltinis:
- Cole Keith
- Andrew Quattrin
- Isaac Salmon
- Mike Sheppard (C)
- Paul Ciulini
- Mason Flesch
- Lucas Rumball
- Ronan Foley
- Ross Braude
- Will Kelly
- Mitch Richardson
- Spencer Jones
- Ueta Tufuga
- Matt Hood
- Gaston Mieres
- Jack McRogers
- Lolani Faleiva
- Tyler Rowland
- Adrian Wadden
- Taitusi Vikilani
- James O’Neill
- Chris Bell
- Mitch Voralek