The first outing of Old Glory DC's 2022 side was a bit rough. The team welcomed the Toronto Arrows to the St. James, and the Arrows thanked them by walking away with 47 points to Old Glory's 17. Of course, you should never take too much from the final score of a preseason match. Neither team was really trying to win this and both were without their star players. Still, there are some insights we can get from the experience.
The opening of the match was a back and forth affair, with neither team managing to sustain pressure. They traded possession several times before some bad tackling from DC gave Toronto their first try six minutes in. Old Glory responded with their own try a few minutes later, with a long break down the sideline by Jack Russell being finished by Owen Sheehy. Just a minute later, Russell made another break, but was stopped short of the line.
Around the 15 minute mark, Toronto put together the first sustained pressure of the match. The next five minutes were a goal-line stand by DC, with three mauls defended, the last one being held up in goal. Dabulas relieved the pressure, but the relief was short lived as the Arrows broke over the line for a score in the 21st minute.
OGDC retook possession on the restart and built pressure in Toronto's half. The Arrows held on for several minutes, but eventually Old Glory pushed over a maul for a try of their own at the 26th minute. The Arrows replied quickly, breaking for a try in the 29th minute.
From there, things started to break down a bit for both teams. Neither could get much sustained pressure going, with Toronto making ground, then giving it up with turnovers, and DC missing approximately five hundred million tackles. The teams got into a bit of a scuffle after a crunching tackle by Doug Fraser, but neither team scored for the rest of the half.
Halftime: Old Glory DC 12-21 Toronto Arrows
The second half marked a bit of a shift in the match. At first, neither team could get a foothold, with almost all of the play coming between the 22s. However, a couple penalties in a row gave Toronto prime position, and they converted it into a try in the 48th minute.
From that point, Old Glory failed to maintain possession for more than a couple of phases at a time. Everytime they got possession, they'd find a way to turn it over: penalties, knock-ons, missed lineouts, lost scrums, you name it. The impact of senior Arrows veterans like Lucas Rumball and Kyle Ballie was felt acutely here.
OGDC mostly did a good job of keeping the ball out of their own 22, but without consistent possession it was only a matter of time before Toronto made it through. The Canadians scored tries in the 54th, 66th, and 72nd minutes to really rack up the score.
In the final moments of the match, John Rizzo took the ball 80 meters largely uncontested for a score in the corner to make things more respectable.
Full Time: Old Glory DC 17-47 Toronto Arrows
You should never put too much stock in the final score of a preseason match. However, there are some takeaways that we can draw from individual performances.
First of all, the starters played like starters. Api Naikatini's 36 years of experience showed through in important moments, and Junior Sa'u delivered some of the absolutely crunching hits that will be expected of him this season. Doug Fraser was great as a captain, and seemed to be everywhere on the pitch.
Old Glory's go-to bench players also had good games. Jack Iscaro looks to be every bit as good as he was at the end of last season, and even put in a beautiful grubber kick. On defense, Cory Daniel deserves a shout out. There were numerous instances where he read the Toronto attack correctly and hit players right as they caught the ball.
Some of the new signings deserve a mention as well. New scrumhalf John Lefevre was on top of his role in the first half, distributing quickly and cleanly. Jack Russell, the winger announced just yesterday, may have played himself into the lineup with yesterday's match. He showed that he is both fast and difficult to tackle, and was a standout in the first half.
Of course, not everything was positive. A number of the new backs struggled in one-on-one tackles, and the lineout was a mess. Concerningly, Old Glory had a tendency to bunch up on defense and leave huge amounts of space down teh sidelines. Still, this was far from the starting lineup, so we shouldn't be too concerned yet. Hopefully we will get a chance to see more of the expected starters in next week's matchup against the New England Free Jacks.