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Second-half surge carries Utah Warriors to 47-19 comeback win over Toronto Arrows

Prop Lolani Faleiva is shown in action for the Toronto Arrows against NOLA Gold, at York Lions Stadium, in Toronto, in an April 16, 2022, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Toronto Arrows, Tek Ang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

HERRIMAN, Utah — Wing Joe Mano scored three tries as the Utah Warriors rallied for a 47-19 comeback win over the Toronto Arrows in Major League Rugby play Saturday.

Trailing 12-8 at the break, Utah took control of the game in the second half.

Paul Lasike, Mika Kruse, Onehunga Havili and Caleb Makene also scored tries for Utah (3-2-0). Joel Hodgson, who played 105 games for the Newcastle Falcons in England's Gallagher Premiership, kicked three conversions and two penalties.

Lolani Faleiva, Gene Syminton and Ross Braude scored tries for Toronto (1-4-0). Sam Malcolm booted two conversions.

It was zero degrees at kickoff at Zions Bank Stadium, feeling like minus-five Celsius for the early-afternoon kickoff.

Toronto is playing the first six games of the season on the road. The Arrows visit the Dallas Jackals next Saturday before returning home to host the defending champion New York Ironworkers on April 8 at York Lions Stadium.

Saturday's contest saw veteran lock Mike Sheppard become the franchise leader in all-time appearances at 51, surpassing Paul Ciulini (50) for the outright lead.

Fullback Brenden Black, a product of the Arrows high-performance academy, started at fullback becoming — at 18 years, 10 months, 27 days — the youngest starter in MLR history and the youngest player to feature for the Arrows in a MLR match (Kobe Faust was the previous youngest Arrows debutant, in June 2021, at 19 years, one month, 25 days).

Hodgson gave Utah an early lead with a penalty in the ninth minute after the Arrows were pinged for offside. But the six-foot-four, 285-pound Faleiva bulled his way over for a try and 5-3 lead in the 15th minute, dragging three Utah defenders with him.

Hodgson missed a 27th-minute penalty attempt after an Arrows scrum infraction. 

Warriors No. 8 Thomas Tu’avao was sent to the sin-bin in the 36th minute for a high tackle. Toronto kicked for the corner from the ensuing penalty and Syminton scored off the driving maul from the lineout.

Mano, a speedster from American Samoa, cut the Toronto lead to 12-8 with a 40th-minute try that saw him evade one tackle and dance his way past Black to cap a fine run down the touchline.

Toronto had 60 per cent of possession but was called for six penalties in the first half.

Mano used his pace to score his second try, beating two Arrows defenders in the 46th minute for a converted try and 15-12 Utah lead. Hodgson missed a 55th-minute penalty but slotted another attempt over from close range for an 18-12 lead in the 58th minute.

Braude scored on a quick-tap penalty from close range in the 62nd minute with Malcolm's conversion putting Toronto back in the lead, 19-18.

The five-foot-11, 250-pound Lasike crashed through a Toronto defender in the 65th minute for a converted try and 25-19 lead after a rampaging run by flanker Lance Williams.

Mano added his third try in the 69th minute, hauling in a cross-field Hodgson kick before flying over the goal line in the corner.

Three minutes later, anther Hodgson kick found Kruse on the other side of the field and the wing scored after making a one-handed catch. Havili, a Tonga international forward, scored in the 73rd, capping off another Utah linebreak as the Toronto defence was ripped open again.

Makene padded the lead with a try in the corner in the 79th minute.

While missing 10 players through injury, the Arrows matchday squad still featured eight internationals: seven Canadians and Chilean Ramon Ayarza.

Faust and Avery Oitomen came in on the wing with Fabian Goodall shifting to centre alongside Mitch Eadie, who switched to the backs from No. 8.

Captain Lucas Rumball took over as No. 8, with James O’Neill making his first start of the season at openside flanker. Prop Isaac Salmon, activated off the injured reserve list, started on the bench.

Toronto, which had last week off after losing 29-3 at old Glory D.C. on March 18, came into the game with a 3-1 all-time record against the Warriors including 1-1-0 in Utah.

Canadian Emerson Prior started at prop for the Warriors, who were coming off a 37-14 loss at NOLA Gold.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2023

The Canadian Press

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