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Seawolves rally in the second half to beat Arrows in MLR

Major League Rugby Major League Rugby - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Captain Riekert Hattingh scored two tries as the Seattle Seawolves rallied in the second half to down Toronto 36-27 Sunday and extend the Arrows' Major League Rugby losing streak to six games.

Toronto led 20-14 at the half, seemingly rebounding from an 80-5 humiliation at the hands of the New England Free Jacks the week before. But Seattle took control in the second half.

Seattle (7-2-0, 34 points) was coming off losses to the Utah Warriors (41-35) and San Diego Legion (23-20) after a perfect 6-0-0 start to the season.

Ross Braude scored two tries for Toronto, while Shane O'Leary kicked two penalties and a conversion. The Arrows also got an automatic conversion for a try scored under the posts and a penalty try.

Martin Iosefo, James Malcolm and ex-Arrow Ronan Foley also scored tries for Seattle. A.J. Alatimu booted four conversions and a penalty.

Trailing by a point, Seattle went ahead 22-20 with a penalty in the 62nd minute. Tries by Hattingh and Foley padded the Seawolves' lead to 36-20.

Toronto was awarded a penalty try in the dying seconds, with Seattle called for pulling down a driving maul, which reduced the deficit to 36-27.

Toronto (1-8-0, eight points) has not won since edging the expansion Chicago Hounds 27-26 on March 11.

The Arrows played their first six games on the road due to the Canadian climate, going 1-5-0. They have lost to the defending champion New York Ironworkers (29-27), New England and now Seattle since returning to York Lions Stadium.

The Seawolves struck early with Iosefo finishing off a linebreak by Dan Kriel, who found space after retrieving an Alatimu chip kick, for a 7-0 lead in the fourth minute. O'Leary cut the margin to 7-3 in the 14th with a penalty kick after Seattle was penalized at the breakdown.

Toronto wing D'Shawn Bowen fumbled the ball as he went to put it down for a try, cut down in the tackle by Malcolm in the 17th minute. An O'Leary penalty made it 7-6.

Braude, in his 30th appearance for the Arrows, put Toronto ahead with a fine solo run down the touchline. He launched a kick as tacklers approached and got to the ball first to touch down for a converted try and 13-7 lead.

Seattle responded with a Malcolm converted try at the back of a rolling maul in the 26th minute for a 14-13 Seawolves lead.

Braude scored under the posts on the stroke of halftime, finishing off a fine run by Mitch Eadie, for a converted try and 20-14 Arrows lead.

A Hattingh try in the 42nd minute cut the Toronto advantage to 20-19. Conner Mooneyham came close to adding to the lead in the 46th but was ruled to have had a foot out of bounds.

The Arrows held Seattle out while a man down with fullback Kobe Faust sin-binned for a professional foul.

Toronto was missing the injured Ciaran Breen, Cole Davis, Connor Grindal, Travis Larsen, Sam Malcolm, Peter Nelson, Conan O’Donnell, Avery Oitomen, Tautalatasi Tasi and Corey Thomas. Nic Benn and Micaiah Torrance-Read are out for the season.

Despite the long list of injuries, the Arrows' matchday 23 still included 10 internationals: eight from Canada and one each from Chile and Ireland.

Isaac Salmon returned from injury to start at prop.

Hooker Tyler Wong, signed Friday for the rest of the season from rugby Canada's Pacific Pride developmental academy, started on the bench. The six-foot-two, 230-pounder is a former Canadian under-20 international.

Canadian Nakai Penny started at flanker for Seattle.

Toronto plays at NOLA Gold next Sunday.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2023