The Toronto Arrows took another big step towards playoff qualification on Sunday as they defeated the San Diego Legion in dramatic fashion. A try in the 78th minute from Steven Ng drew the applause of the 3,000 in attendance at Lamport Stadium and gave the Arrows the 23-19 win.
San Diego were the league’s best side heading into the match but were pinned in their half for nearly the entire opening quarter. When they finally got sustained possession their dangerous backline produced a try to take an early lead.
Sam Malcolm replied with two penalty goals for Toronto and though the momenum was back in their hand, the lead change wouldn’t hold to halftime. A loose pass ended up with Mike Te’o and the Eagles flyer sped away for a try against the run of play.
Malcolm landed a penalty early in the second half before a late flurry settled the match. Replacement winger Leandro Leivas scored a fine individual effort, but San Diego captain Joe Pietersen responded in kind. Toronto held their nerve and used the strength of their forwards to set up Ng’s heroics in the final moments.
The win knocks the Legion off the top and while the Arrows remain in 6th spot, they are now just four points behind rivals New York and Glendale for a playoff spot. With two games in four days coming up, they could find themselves in the top four at the close of the weekend.
Eric Howard scored a try just a minute into the match to lead the NOLA Gold to a 26-14 win over Austin Elite on Saturday. It moves the Gold back to first place overall. Hubert Buydens also played a lead role, but Kyle Baillie was forced off early with an ankle injury. Austin had Josh and Travis Larsen starting in the pack with Aidan McMullan a second half replacement on the wing.
The Raptors were on fire at Infinity Park as they tied Toronto’s record for most points in a single match with a 64-22 drubbing of the Utah Warriors. Robbie Petzer set a new Major League Rugby record with 34 points himself including a hat trick, and Canadian prop Noah Barker acquited himself well in the Glendale scrum.
A rainy afternoon in Brooklyn brought a close to the weekend as Rugby United New York shut out the visiting Houston SaberCats by a 21-0 score at MCU Park. US Eagles hooker Dylan Fawsitt scored two tries as the SaberCats were playing their first game since the axe fell on coach Justin Fitzpatrick during the week. New York crucially failed to get the four-try bonus point, something that may come back to bite them in the playoff race.
There are five games ahead this week, two for Toronto. The make-up game against the Austin Elite is scheduled for Thursday night at York Alumni Field. Americas Rugby Championship starter Luke Campbell has arrived and will make his MLR debut against the Elite. On Sunday afternoon it’s back downtown to Lamport Stadium to face the Utah Warriors. Tickets for both are available now on the Arrows website.
Three games are on deck on Saturday, including two heavyweight battles. The two top teams go head-to-head as New Orleans plays host to San Diego. New York is at home again to welcome new signing Samu Manoa and the Seattle Seawolves in another titanic battle. Houston will hold the official grand opening of their new AVEVA Stadium later that day when Glendale comes to town.
All matches will be live streamed for Canadian viewers on the official Major League Rugby Facebook page. Thursday’s Arrows game will not be on GameTV, but will be available on their Game+ streaming service. Sunday’s game against Utah will be on broadcast on the regular GameTV channel as usual.
WEEK 16 SCHEDULE
Austin Elite at Toronto Arrows
Thursday, May 9
4pm PT, 7pm ET
San Diego Legion at NOLA Gold
Saturday, May 11
Noon PT, 3pm ET
Seattle Seawolves at Rugby United New York
Saturday, May 11
1:30 PT, 4:30 ET
Glendale Raptors at Houston SaberCats
Saturday, May 11
5pm PT, 8pm ET
Utah Warriors at Toronto Arrows
Sunday, May 12
11am PT, 2pm ET