Toronto Arrows Fall Short in MLR Inaugural Home Opener
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, April 7, 2019
NOLA GOLD 35 – TORONTO ARROWS 31 FINAL
TORONTO, ON – It came down to the final minute. The Toronto Arrows had their first lead of the game after Morgan Mitchell punched in a big try off a goal line scrum to make it 31-28. The Arrows held their own after being heavily outplayed for the majority of the 1sthalf by the NOLA Gold, but New Orleans kept chipping away at Toronto’s defence.
After a long and brutal goal line stand, Ignacio Dotti finally forced the ball down in the end zone to score the winning try for NOLA with under a minute to play.
“Once again we got off to a slow start,” said Vice President and General Manager Mark Winokur. “We put ourselves down 16 points early [which is] not a great way to start a game. And then we just couldn’t hold that lead… it is what it is and we’re just going to have to pick it up again next week.”
The slow start was apparent when they went down 21-7 after just 12 and a half minutes of gametime. NOLA also made a big goal line stop just before the first hydration break to prevent the Arrows from closing the gap.
Gaston Mieres was certainly one of the players of the game for Toronto, who scored two big trys in the latter part of the 1sthalf to get the Arrows within striking distance. His second try came off a huge forced turnover by Toronto that led to a massive 60-yard run downfield.
“He’s a constant professional,” said veteran Arrows Lock Mike Sheppard about Mieres. “He comes to work, and he executes his job. He’s always pushing himself; he’s always pushing those around him to better and we’re just really glad to have him with us.”
It was a penalty-filled affair, much to the dismay of the sold-out crowd at York Alumni Stadium, and penalty troubles for the Arrows was what allowed NOLA to get on the board after Sam Malcolm opened the scoring with a try for Toronto.
It was a passionate bunch that came out in support of their newly promoted rugby squad. You couldn’t ask for much more than a close and entertaining first-ever professional home opener for the Toronto Arrows.
“We never really expected a complete sell-out on day one,” said Winokur. “It’s super encouraging and we’re so grateful to the fans for turning out and it’s an exciting start for us.”
“The atmosphere was electric,” Sheppard told BarnBurner post-game. “This was more than I could have ever anticipated. There’s a ton of people here, they were making a lot of noise and it was just wonderful to be a part of.”
Among the fans in attendance for the opening game was part-owner of the Arrows Brian Burke, who has been a member of Rugby Canada’s board of directors and a huge advocate for rugby in Canada. He’s been quoted saying it’s his second-favourite sport.
With the loss, the Arrows fall to 4-5 on the season, but have an opportunity to pull back to a .500 record Sunday April 14thagainst the winless and league-worst Austin Elite Rugby Club.