Toronto Arrows defeat Rugby ATL 28-18 to remain unbeaten in MLR play

The Canadian Press

MARIETTA, Ga. — Uruguayan international Leandro Leivas scored two tries as the Toronto Arrows remained unbeaten with a 28-18 win over Rugby ATL on Sunday in Major League Rugby play.

The Arrows (4-0-0) have won their last 11 regular-season games — the last seven in 2019 and the opening four this year. The run was interrupted by a 30-17 semifinal playoff loss to Seattle last June.

Toronto and the San Diego Legion (4-0-0) are the only still unbeaten teams this season.

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Argentina's Tomas de la Vega and Uruguay's Gaston Mieres also scored tries for Toronto, which got full value from its South American contingent. New Zealand's Sam Malcolm added four conversions.

Alex Maughan and Neethling Gericke scored tries for Rugby ATL (2-2-0), which led 11-7 at the half. Kurt Coleman kicked two penalties and a conversion.

Up 21-11, Toronto lost scrum half Andrew Ferguson to the sin-bin in the 69th minute after an Atlanta attack was snuffed out via an illegal tackle at the Toronto goal-line. The Atlanta side scored a minute later via a driving maul with Neethling Gericke touching the ball down. The conversion cut the Toronto lead to 21-18.

Gericke was sent to the sin-bin in the 76th minute for a professional foul. 

Toronto kept pressing as the clock wound down, looking to use its scrum domination to set up a bonus-point fourth try. It came from Mieres down the flank with the conversion making it 28-18. 

The Atlanta team featured Canadian internationals Matt Heaton, the co-captain who started at flanker, and  forward Conor Keys, who came on in the second half.

Malcolm was MLP player of the week after making all nine kicks for a 24-point haul in last week's win over Seattle. But his first penalty attempt Sunday, in the sixth minute, bounced back off the post at Life University’s Lupo Family Field.

Toronto went up 7-0 in the 14th minute after Leivas sliced through the Atlanta defence down the wing. Coleman reduced the lead to 7-6 with a pair of penalties in the 20th and 32nd minutes.

Atlanta pulled ahead in the 39th minute, electing to kick for touch rather than go for three points. The forwards drove over for the try from the ensuing lineout with Maughan touching the ball down for an 11-7 lead.

After a series of Atlanta scrum infractions in its own end, Toronto went over in the 56th minute with de la Vega crashing over. The conversion gave Toronto a 14-11 lead.

Toronto kept up the pressure with its scrum dominant and Leivas scored in the corner in the 62nd minute after another scrum win in the Atlanta end to increase the lead to 21-11.

The Arrows had previously beaten Austin (38-10), Houston (27-22) and Seattle (39-17) to date this season. Rugby ATL opened with wins over Utah (28-19) and New Orleans' NOLA Gold (22-10) before losing to Rugby United New York (22-19).

Toronto continues its string of away games next Friday when it visits the Colorado Raptors (1-3-0), who downed the Utah Warriors 22-14 Saturday. Due to the Canadian winter, the Arrows' home opener isn't until April 4 against Utah.

 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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