In the third week of their inaugural season, the Toronto Arrows followed a late try with a valiant defensive stand in the final minutes to tally the franchise’s first ever win and the Major League Rugby Team of the Week award.
Fullback JP Eloff led the high-octane NOLA Gold offense with 14 of his side’s 41 points to take Player of the Week.
On the road against Austin Elite Rugby, the Arrows reshuffled their starting line-up and scored first through Avery Oitomen’s 16th minute try. The two teams traded strikes, with the home side eventually grabbing a 19-18 lead in the 65th. But with five minutes remaining and the ball deep in Elite territory, Arrows outside center Dan Moor charged down an Austin clearance attempt and scooped up the loose ball for the game-winning try, securing the club’s first ever victory. Toronto’s 23-19 win vaulted them to third in the overall standings.
Eloff scored 14 of NOLA’s 41 points with four conversions and two penalty goals, finishing the match kicking six-for-six. In the 74th minute, Eloff set up a NOLA try with a massive line break, running half the field before the ball eventually ended up in the hands of JoJo Tikoisuva, whose converted try duly extended the Gold lead to 41-24.
Eloff’s 14 points and his 153 meters carrying the ball topped the league, while his Player of the Week marks the second consecutive week a NOLA Gold player has won the award, after Taylor Howden won in Week 2.
MLR’s First XV of Week 3:
Loosehead Prop (No. 1), Jamie Dever, Houston SaberCats
Hooker (No. 2), Matt Harmon, New Orleans Gold
Tighthead Prop (No. 3), Morgan Mitchell, Toronto Arrows
Lock (No. 4), Lou Stanfill, San Diego Legion
Lock (No. 5), Apisai Naikatini, Seattle Seawolves
Blindside Flanker (No. 6), Eric Duechle, Seattle Seawolves
Openside Flanker (No. 7), Zack Stryffeler, New Orleans Gold
No. 8, Riekert Hattingh, Seattle Seawolves
Scrum-half (No. 9), Marcelo Torrealba, Austin Elite
Fly-half (No. 10), Joe Pietersen, San Diego Legion
Wing (No. 11), Josua Vici, Houston SaberCats
Inside Center (No. 12), Spencer Jones, Toronto Arrows
Outside Center (No. 13), Dan Moor, Toronto Arrows
Wing (No. 14), Tristan Blewett, New Orleans Gold
Fullback (No. 15), Jean Pierre “JP” Eloff, New Orleans Gold