Marcello Wainwright and his Toronto Arrows teammates have secured their spot in the 2019 Major League Rugby Championship Series.
The expansion club ended its regular season with a thrilling 22-20 victory over Rugby United New York, capping off the match with a late penalty goal from Sam Malcolm to earn the win – their seventh victory in a row – as well as an all-important post-season berth.
The visitors were the first side on the board in the back-and-forth affair, with Mike St. Claire finding a gap and sprinting in to open the match scoring in the 6th minute.
Toronto quickly answered back, responding through rapid-fire tries from Dan Moor and Spencer Jones. After beating one tackler and fighting off another, Leandro Leivas did well to spring Moor for a piercing try into the corner at the 15-minute mark. The captain’s scoring play was followed up just minutes later through Jones, who received a pinpoint long-distance flat pass from Jamie Mackenzie to dot down underneath the uprights. Malcolm added the extras after Jones’ tally to put the Arrows ahead 12-7, and the scoreline would hold heading into the interval.
New York began the second half much like the first, scoring another quick try through John Quill to regain the lead. Cathal Marsh then struck two penalty goals before the hydration break to build an eight-point gap between the two sides, leaving the hosts with a two-score deficit to overcome entering the final stages of the match.
Andrew Ferguson clawed back a try in the 65th minute, taking a quick tap and catching New York’s defensive line off-guard as he snuck into the in-goal area. Malcolm’s conversion brought Toronto to within one point of New York, setting up a heart-pounding end to the season finale.
With momentum now swinging back in the Arrows’ favor and Toronto’s defensive ranks holding firm, a creative grubber kick from Pat Parfrey was plucked up by Moor, who promptly marshalled his side back down the pitch. A club record crowd of 3,218 were out their seats as Toronto continued probing deep into the match, and were eventually rewarded in the 77th minute: Malcolm, with his team’s playoff ambitions on the line, calmly received a pass from Ferguson and booted a drop goal through the posts, marking the first drop goal scored in club history.
Toronto gobbled up the ball following the restart, and sealed the victory by coolly controlling play while the final 90 seconds of the match ticked down.