NOLA Gold scores 22 unanswered points for comeback win over the Toronto Arrows

·4 min read

METAIRIE, La. — Argentine winger Julian Dominguez scored two tries as NOLA Gold rallied with 22 straight points in the second half for a 22-14 comeback win over the Toronto Arrows in Major League Rugby play Sunday.

Toronto (3-4-0) came into the day atop the tight Eastern Conference, with the top five teams separated by just one point. NOLA (3-2-1) was fifth.

Manuel Montero scored two tries for Toronto, which led 14-0 at the half. The six-foot-four, 240-pound Montero, who has 27 caps for Argentina, scored a hat trick last week against Rugy United New York and now has six tries on the season.

Tayler Adams kicked two conversions for Toronto. The New Zealand fly half, who came into weekend play leading the MLR with 64 points, missed two penalty kicks and was sin-binned late in the game.

Cam Dolan also scored a try for NOLA. Damian Stevens booted two conversions and a penalty.

A small number of fans took in the game, played on a wet field at the Gold Mine on Airline Stadium.

The Arrows' 23-man match-day lineup included 15 Canadians with lock Mason Flesch and hooker Andrew Quattrin returning to the starting 15. The squad featured 14 internationals — seven from Canada, four from Argentina and three from Uruguay.

Canadian internationals Eric Howard and Kyle Baillie started for NOLA Gold at hooker and lock, respectively. Canadian back Lockie Kratz also saw action for NOLA.

The Arrows were coming off back-to-back lopsided wins over Rugby United New York (53-12) and the Seattle Seawolves (52-7). Toronto, which had a limited pre-season due to pandemic restrictions, lost its first two games of the season before winning three of the next four.

NOLA lost 38-28 to Rugby ATL last time out and had lost two of its last three.

NOLA survived an early Toronto onslaught, penned deep in its own end after conceding three straight penalties. But the Arrows kept coming and Montero went over untouched in the eighth minute as Toronto stretched the NOLA defenders.

Toronto's defence was up to the task against a lengthy NOLA attack, bending but not breaking with the multi-phase NOLA move ending on a handling error.

NOLA fly half Carl Meyer came off for a head injury assessment in the 27th minute after an collision with Toronto fullback Joaquin Tuculet as both tried to retrieve a high kick. Tuculet also left the field in need of some repairs.

Montero scored again in the 33rd minute after Gaston Mieres sliced through the NOLA defence. The Toronto forwards set up the move with an efficient rolling maul from a lineout.

NOLA pressed late in the half, helped by a Toronto penalty. But, after a NOLA player was held up at the goal line to trigger a scrum, the Arrows forwards drove the NOLA pack backwards to end the threat.

A NOLA try in the 45th minute was negated by a knock-on as errors continued to plague the home team.

NOLA finally scored in the 57th minute when Dolan touched down after at the back of a rolling maul following a lineout prompted by an Arrows penalty. Stevens' conversion cut the lead to 14-7.

NOLA kept coming and Dominguez, after a string of Toronto penalties, touched down in the corner in the 62nd. Stevens could not make the sideline conversion, leaving Toronto ahead 14-12.

Stevens had a chance to put NOLA ahead via a penalty in the 65th minute, after Toronto was penalized for not releasing the ball, but the Namibian international pushed the ball wide.

Adams was sin-binned in the 68th minute as the Arrows penalty count mounted. Stevens converted the ensuing penalty from in front of the posts to ease NOLA ahead 15-14.

A handling error by Toronto's Mieres led to a NOLA lineout and then an Arrows penalty at the breakdown. NOLA kicked for the corner and Dominguez sliced through the Arrows defence for a 75th-minute converted try and a 22-14 lead.

Replays seemed to suggest a NOLA player obstructed an Arrows defender on the play but it went unnoticed.

NOLA's Hanno Dirksen was sin-binned in the 78th minute after an ill-tempered exchange.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2021

The Canadian Press