TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows kept their playoff hopes alive while adding to the expansion Dallas Jackals’ misery with a 57-0 win in Major League Rugby play Saturday.
With three games remaining in the regular season, fourth-place Toronto (7-6-0) moved within seven points of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. For Dallas (0-14-0) it was a fifth consecutive game conceding 50-plus points.
Jack McRogers scored two tries and Ross Braude, James O’Neill, Guiseppe du Toit, Ronan Foley, Gaston Mieres and Lolani Faleiva added singles for Toronto, which led 43-0 at the half. Will Kelly kicked seven conversions and a penalty.
Both teams were depleted.
Toronto had 11 players on injured reserve: backs Chris Bell, Cole Brown, Kobe Faust, Andrew Ferguson, Brandan Ferguson, Spencer Jones, Sam Malcolm, Mitch Richardson, Dennon Robinson-Bartlett and forwards Marcello Wainwright and Mason Flesch.
The Jackals also had holes in their roster. The MLR TV broadcast said 11 players were unable to cross the border either because of vaccination or visa issues.
Dallas winger Jalen Tatum had to be helped off in the 20th minute after suffering an apparent leg injury in a tackle.
It was an evening when much of the city’s sporting attention was focused some 30 kilometres south where the Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning were facing off in Scotiabank Arena in Game 7 of their NHL playoff series.
But it was also an important night for the Arrows as they looked to move up the standings.
The Arrows have been hit hard by injuries, especially at scrum half. On Thursday they signed their eighth scrum half of the season, luring former Arrow 33-year-old Jamie Mackenzie out of the broadcast booth.
Injuries have seen Toronto go through Braude, Chris Bell, Cole Brown, Andrew Ferguson and Sam Reimer with Gord McRorie and Riley DiNardo signing for short stints.
Mackenzie retired in November, after a long-term hip injury sidelined him for the entire 2021 Arrows season. But he was brought back after the 22-year-old Brown, who made his club debut as a starter last week against Rugby New York, suffered a lower body injury.
Mackenzie has earned 21 caps for Canada and has been to three Rugby World Cups (2011, 2015 and 2019).
Braude, a South African-born Canadian international scrum half, was making his first start since March 27.
Toronto went ahead in the sixth minute when Braude scored on a quick-tap penalty after the Arrows had laid siege on the Dallas try-line. Braude had set up the attack with a slashing run through the Dallas defence,
Kelly, filling in for the injured Malcolm at fly half, made it 10-0 in the 14th minute with a penalty kick.
Mieres, who has won 78 caps for Uruguay, appeared to have added to the lead in spectacular fashion in the 19th minute, catching a Dallas box kick and then running through the Jackals defence for the try. But the score was waved off after video review of the grounding.
The Arrows kept coming, with O’Neill scoring at the back of a driving maul off a lineout after a Dallas penalty for a 15-0 lead in the 21st minute.
It was more of the same in the 26th minute with acting captain du Toit hitting the hole and crossing the line after another lineout deep in the Dallas end due to a Jackals offside penalty.
The scoreboard kept turning with Foley touching down in the 28th minute after taking a pass from big lock Adrian Wadden, in his first start for the Arrows. Kelly’s conversion upped the lead to 29-0.
Things went from bad to worse for Dallas. An error on the ensuing kickoff followed by a penalty led to Mieres busting over for a try in the 31st minute and a 36-0 lead with Kelly’s conversion.
Faleiva, a refrigerator-sized prop from New Zealand at six foot four and 285 pounds, rumbled over in the 39th minute after several Dallas penalties moved the Arrows deep into Jackals territory.
Another Dallas penalty and Toronto lineout deep in Jackals territory led to a driving maul off a lineout and McRogers try. Kelly’s conversion upped the lead to 50-0 in the 58th minute.
McRogers went over again at the back of a driving maul in the 73rd minute.
The No. 1 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference get a first-round playoff bye, awaiting the winner of the matchup between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in each conference.
Toronto hosts New England, then visits Rugby ATL before wrapping up regular-season play against Old Glory DC.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2022
The Canadian Press