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Toronto Arrows defeat Austin in their Major League Rugby season opener

AUSTIN, Texas — The Toronto Arrows opened their second season in Major League Rugby on a winning note Sunday, dispatching the Austin Gilgronis 38-10.

Manuel Diana, captain Dan Moor, Jaime Mackenzie and Peter Milazzo scored tries for Toronto, which also got a penalty try at Bold Stadium. Sam Malcolm kicked four conversions and a penalty.

Chris Schade scored a try for Austin, which trailed 24-3 at the half. Marcelo Torrealba kicked a conversion and penalty for the home team.

Austin's Potu Leavasa was sin-binned late in the game for a shoving match with a Toronto player.

It was the first of seven straight road games for the Arrows thanks to the Toronto winter. The team went 4-4-0 on the road to start its inaugural 2019 season before winning seven of the next eight at home.

Toronto finished the 2019 season at 11-5-0 before falling to the eventual champion Seattle Seawolves in the playoff semifinal. Twenty-nine members of the Arrows' 35-man roster players are back from last year.

Austin went 0-16-0 last season but had close matches with Toronto, losing 23-19 and 24-13. The Texas side was missing several marquee signings including Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tonga's Kurt Morath and former All Black Frank Halai.

After a pre-game laser show, Toronto went ahead in the second minute when Uruguay's Diana crashed over. A Torrealba penalty narrowed the lead to 7-3 in the ninth.

A penalty try in the 14th minute, after several scrum penalties, made it 14-3 for Toronto.

After Austin No. 8 Lino Saunitoga was sin-binned in the 18th minute for an offence, Malcolm's penalty made it 17-3 in the 25th and Moor went over in the corner in the 28th.

Malcolm missed a Toronto penalty on the strike of halftime. But with the Toronto scrum rampant, Mackenzie went over from in close in the 50th for a converted try that made it 31-3.

Schade, Austin's hooker, cut the lead to 31-10 with a converted try in the 59th minute. Milazzo, the replacement scrum half, scored in the 78th for Toronto.

The Austin franchise was founded in 2017 as Austin Elite Rugby before switching to the Austin Herd. Now owned by Australia-based Loyals LLC, the team is known as the Gilgronis reportedly after a yet-to-be-unveiled cocktail.

Austin is coached by Mick Byrne, a former Aussie Rules Football player and skills coach with New Zealand and Australia.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2020.


The Canadian Press