Marcello Wainwright and his Toronto Arrows’ teammates inaugural Major League Rugby season came to a close g, with the expansion club falling 30 - 17 to the Seattle Seawolves in their Championship Series Semi-Final at Starfire Stadium.
Despite trailing by 23 points in the opening half of the playoff fixture, the travelling Arrows fought back to reduce the deficit to six points in the late stages of the match.
The first 40 minutes were controlled by the Seawolves, as the reigning league champions raced out to a 23-0 lead through tries from JP Smith and Jeff Hassler, along with a trio of penalty goals from Brock Staller.
Down but not out, the Arrows received a boost just before the halftime whistle, when Gaston Mieres put the visitors on the board with a juking try after receiving a pinpoint pass from Sam Malcolm. Malcolm added a conversion from just inside the touch line to make it 23-7 heading into the interval.
With momentum on their side, the Arrows came out of the break with renewed intensity. Strong pressure led to a Mike Sheppard try in the 49th minute, as the lock intercepted an errant pass from Smith to race clear. A Malcolm penalty goal struck just after the hour-mark pulled Toronto to within one score of Seattle.
Despite pushing the hosts to their back feet, Toronto’s comeback hopes were dashed minutes later as a penalty try was awarded to Seattle after the referee adjudged the visitors to have illegally brought down a Seawolves maul.
The final glimmer of hope brought on by an apparent try by Sheppard was snuffed out when the TMO spotted a lineout infraction and rescinded the tally.
With the free kick, the Seawolves cleared and time expired.
“We’re proud to have earned a playoff spot in our first season in the league,” said Arrows Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn. “We’ll leave with our heads held high after a memorable season that was filled with positives. While we didn’t get the result we had hoped for, we learned a lot this year, and we’re excited about what lies ahead for our organization.”