The Toronto Arrows picked up their second win of the Major League Rugby season as they beat the Houston SaberCats 44-27 in an all-action affair at Constellation Field on Friday evening. After building a dominant 27-10 halftime lead, the Arrows again hit a wall in the second half but had just enough energy to hold on and seal the win.
Sam Windsor’s radar was off as he uncharacteristically missed an early penalty. Instead it was Johnny Sheridan who plucked a loose pass out of the air to score the first try against the run of play. Sam Malcolm was spot on with the extras and added a penalty goal to make it 10-0 Arrows.
A second chance for Windsor would find its target but the Arrows wasted no time replying. From an attacking lineout the forwards were unstoppable and Kolby Francis was the man with the ball over the line. Houston needed a response and they got their own in identical fashion with Jamie Dever getting credit at the bottom of the driving maul.
The score would not carry to the break. Malcolm nailed his second penalty and then Dan Moor pounced on a handling error, connecting with Avery Oitomen on his outside and the teenage flyer stepped on the accelerator to slide in for his third try of the season. The sideline conversion was curled in beautifully by Malcolm to stretch the lead.
Things went from bad to worse for the SaberCats as the Arrows came out flying from the restart. Andrew Ferguson screamed through a gap from his own end and found Malcolm on his inside to carry it deep into Houston territory. The quick recycle went to Spencer Jones and with the defense in tatters it was a straightforward run to the line.
A big of inspiration came from Zach Pangelinan. Houston’s fullback goose-stepped his way past the Arrows forwards and his offload found Kelly Kolberg in support for the finish. Another try would come soon after. Pat O’Toole was held up but the referee came back for advantage and Connor Murphy’s quick tap ended with Malacchi Esdale in space and into the left corner.
Malcolm broke up the momentum temporarily with his third penalty goal but Windsor clawed another seven points back with his trademark dummy and inside step taking up in under the sticks. It would not be enough to save the game, however. The Arrows reserves went to work in the scrum and Andrew Wilson peeled off the back for a late try with Malcolm making it a perfect 8-from-8 off the kicking tee.
Houston will stay at Constellation Field for another week as they host Rugby United New York on Saturday. The Arrows continue their road swing with a trip to Colorado to meet familiar foes in the form of the Glendale Raptors at Infinity Park.
Tries – J. Dever (35’), K. Kolberg (45’), M. Esdale (51’), S. Windsor (63’)
Cons – S. Windsor 2/4 (36’, 64’)
Pens – S. Windsor 1/2 (27’)
Tries – J. Sheridan (5’) K. Francis (31’), A. Oitomen (40’), S. Jones (42’), A. Wilson (75’)
Cons – S. Malcolm 5/5 (6’, 32’, 40’, 43’, 76’)
Pens – S. Malcolm 3/3 (15’, 38‘, 56’)
1 Mateo Sanguinetti (17 Jake Turnbull 52’), 2 Pat O’Toole (16 Amro Gouda 72’), 3 Jamie Dever (18 Charlie Connolly 52’), 4 Robert Meeson (20 Diego Magno 56’), 5 Matt Trouville (capt.), 6 Luke Beauchamp, 7 Chris Coyle (21 Alejandro Nieto 35’), 8 Ayron Schramm (19 Chris Parker 64’), 9 Connor Murphy (22 Chris Saint 77’), 10 Sam Windsor, 11 Malacchi Esdale, 12 Max Tacket, 13 Osea Kolinisau, 14 Kelly Kolberg (23 Conor Mills 56’), 15 Zach Pangelinan
1 Rob Brouwer (18 Mike Smith 77’), 2 AJ Quattrin (16 Steven Ng 25’-36’, 77’), 3 Tom Dolezel (17 Pat Lynott 53’), 4 Josh van Horne (19 Tom van Horne 53’), 5 Paul Ciulini, 6 Peter Milazzo, 7 Marcello Wainwright, 8 Kolby Francis (20 Andrew Wilson 60’), 9 Andrew Ferguson (21 Riley DiNardo 72’), 10 Sam Malcolm, 11 Johnny Sheridan, 12 Spencer Jones, 13 Dan Moor (capt.), 14 Avery Oitomen (22 Leandro Leivas 72’), 15 Jack Evans (23 Gastón Mieres 53’)
Referee: Paul-Henri Courbier (USAR)
Assistants: Ben Crouse (USAR) & Butch Neuenschwander (USAR)