Arrows soundly beaten by Ironworkers in Major League Rugby play
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — The defending champion New York Ironworkers ran in six tries en route to a lopsided 39-3 victory over Toronto on Sunday, dropping the Arrows to 0-2-0 in Major League Rugby play.
Toronto lost its season opener 17-10 at Rugby ATL. The Ironworkers fell 25-11 at the Seattle Seawolves in a rematch of the 2022 championship game, won 30-15 by New York.
Dylan Fawsitt, Brendon O'Connor, Nate Brakeley, Kaleb Geiger, Faasiu Fuatai and Eamonn Mathews scored tries for the Ironworkers, who earned a bonus point for scoring four tries. Sam Windsor booted three conversions and a penalty.
Sunday’s match was the Ironworkers' first at Memorial Field, their new home.
Kobe Faust kicked a penalty for the Arrows, who trailed 13-0 at the half.
Arrows coach Peter Smith made four changes to his starting lineup.
Mitch Eadie, returning from injury, made his MLR debut at No. 8 for Toronto. Fabian Goodall and Faust slotted in at centre and wing, respectively, while Mitch Richardson shifted from centre to fly half with Sam Malcolm and Shane O'Leary both injured.
Chilean international Ramon Ayarza and fellow front-row forward Nik Hildebrand made their Toronto debuts off the bench. The Arrows match-day squad featured seven internationals, including six Canadians.
Nic Benn, Will Grant, Noel Reid, Tyler Rowland and Corey Thomas were also unavailable through injury.
Canadian international Andrew Coe started at wing for the Ironworkers.
New York pulled ahead in the eighth minute from a lineout near the Toronto try-line after the Arrows were pinged for an infraction at the breakdown. The Ironworkers won the lineout and Fawsitt crashed over at the back of a rolling maul for a 5-0 lead.
Arrows backs Cole Davis and Ciaran Breen were involved in a heavy collision in the 13th minute as both looked to corral a high New York kick. Breen continued but Davis, a 25-year-old Canadian international from Calgary, left on a stretcher after a lengthy delay.
Davis, who was replaced by Avery Oitomen, was taken to hospital but discharged later in the day.
"Cole will travel back to Toronto with the team (Monday) and will rest at home under the care and supervision of club medical staff," the Arrows said in a statement.
Benja Bensasso crashed over for a New York try in the 26th minute after the Ironworkers won a scrum against the head. But the try was negated for obstruction after video review.
New York kept coming and, after winning a Toronto lineout and penalty for offside, O'Connor scored for a 10-0 lead.
Faust missed a chance to put Canada on the board late in the first half when his kickable penalty was off target.
Windsor kicked a penalty in the 39th minute to up the Ironworkers' lead to 13-0 with Arrows forward Travis Larsen in the sin bin.
New York stuck quickly in the second half with Brakeley, the Ironworkers' captain, cutting through the Toronto defence for a converted try and 20-0 lead after a quick-tap penalty by scrum half Connor Buckey.
Faust scored Toronto's first points with a 44th-minute penalty kick.
Geiger, New York's replacement hooker, scored from a driving maul in the 55th minute as the Ironworkers increased their lead to 27-3. Fuatai touched down after an attack from a lineout in the 65th minute.
The one-way traffic continued with Matthews, the replacement scrum half, diving over from a ruck in the 69th minute.
Nothing was working for Toronto, as shown when Faust had the ball knocked out of his hand by New York's Brad Tucker as he prepared to dive over for what looked to be the Arrows' first try.
Toronto and New York renew acquaintances April 8 in the Arrows' home opener at York Lions Stadium. Toronto plays its first six games on the road.
Toronto and New York had split their six previous meetings with each side having three wins apiece. Both teams won on the road last season, with the Arrows winning 14-0 in Hoboken, N.J.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2023.