METAIRIE, La. — Veteran Matt Giteau kicked 11 points and the expansion Los Angeles Giltinis ran in six tries in a 43-16 victory over the Toronto Arrows in Major League Rugby play Saturday.
The Giltinis (3-0-0) took control by reeling off 26 straight points after Toronto cut the lead to 10-9 in the first half at the Gold Mine, also known as Shrine on Arline. The game was called in the 80th minute due to the threat of lightning.
Manuel Montero scored the lone try for Toronto (1-3-0). Tayler Adams kicked three penalties and a conversion.
Corey Thomas, Adam Ashe, John Ryberg, Angus Cottrell, Harrison Goddard and Harry McNulty scored tries for L.A. which led 17-9 at the half. The 38-year-old Giteau, who won 103 caps for Australia, booted a penalty and four conversions. Luke Burton contributed a conversion.
L.A. scored 21 points around halftime with Arrows prop Gaston Cortes in the sin-bin.
Toronto has shifted its base of operations to suburban Atlanta, sharing facilities with Rugby ATL, due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. Saturday's game was slated to be a Toronto home match but, because Lupo Family Field at Life University in suburban Marietta was unavailable, was moved to New Orleans as the first half of a doubleheader also featuring NOLA Gold and the Austin Gilgronis.
The Giltinis and Gilgronis, both named after cocktails, are owned by Australian entrepreneur Adam Gilchrist.
The Arrows matchday 23 featured 16 Canadians, including nine internationals. There were also four Argentina and two Uruguay internationals.
DTH van der Merwe, Canada's all-time leading try-scorer, started on the wing for the Giltinis. The 34-year-old scored the first two tries in Giltinis history in the season-opening win over New England at the L.A. Coliseum.
Toronto won the ball back from the opening kickoff, drawing a penalty on the ensuing attack for a 3-0 lead after two minutes. Giteau tied it in the sixth minute on a Giltinis penalty.
Thomas crashed over in the eighth minute for a converted try and a 10-3 lead after a Giltinis lineout following a penalty in the Toronto corner. Thomas is Australian but qualifies for Canada through his Edmonton-born father.
Toronto kicked for the corner after L.A. prop Blake Rogers was called for a high tackle. The Arrows forwards laid siege to the goal-line in the 20th minute only to lose possession via a knock-on.
Adams cut the lead to 10-9 with penalties in the 28th and 34th minutes.
Cortes was sin-binned late in the half for a professional foul as L.A. attacked the Arrows goal-line. The Giltinis opted to tap-and-go, only to commit a handling error, one of several times they shot themselves in the foot in the first half.
The Giltinis increased their lead to 17-9 with a pushover try that saw Ashe touch down from the back of the scrum in the last play of the half.
Thomas who had a fine first half, had to be helped off in the 39th minute with an apparent leg injury.
The Giltinis increased their lead to 31-9 with two converted tries in the first six minutes of the second half. The powerful Ryberg touched down in the corner for a converted try as the Arrows failed to hold onto the ball following the kickoff. Cottrell went over in the 45th, dragging defenders with him.
A prolonged Arrows attack went for naught due to a forward pass with winger Gaston Mieres headed for the corner.
Toronto replacement forward Mike Sheppard exited in the 53rd minute after getting the worst of a tackle. He managed to walk off under his own steam after several minutes of treatment.
Goddard went over on the blind side after van der Merwe was stopped just short of the line in the 60th.
Montero finally snapped the Giltinis' 26-point run with a converted try in the 64th minute, capping off a Toronto attack with a fine run down the left. McNulty added a late try for the Giltinis.
The Arrows opened the season with two losses — 24-21 at Rugby ATL and 39-24 at the Utah Warriors — before bouncing back to down Old Glory DC 40-19.
The expansion Giltinis won twice at home, defeating the New England Free Jacks 42-27 and defending champion Seattle Seawolves 57-26, before a third-week bye.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2021
The Canadian Press