Marcello Wainwright’s Toronto Arrows Rugby teammates were looking to make Canadians forget about their own hardship as they watch the player’s battle on the turf for 80 minutes.
However, it did not work out the way they wanted as the LA Giltinis hit the accelerator either side of half-time to dominate the Toronto Arrows 43-16 to maintain their record as Major League Rugby’s only undefeated club.
It’s rare for an expansion club in any sport to hit their debut season with the instant success that the Giltinis have with a strong 3-0 statement.
The club’s first game on the road had its challenges and the Giltinis had to shake off a ragged opening before finding their ruthless streak in New Orleans.
The Giltinis led 10-9 at the 36-minute mark when Toronto’s Argentinian prop Gaston Cortes was yellow carded for malingering off-side and interfering with halfback Harrison Goddard’s ability to pass from the ruck base close to the try line.
The Giltinis snapped into action with a 21-0 spurt in just six minutes while the Arrows were reduced to 14 men.
With less than two minutes to half-time, Scottish No.8 Adam Ashe scored on a pushover try.
The second half opened after 30 seconds with the precision the Giltinis had been searching for. They swooped on the ball from the Arrows’ untidy work off the kick-off, shifted the ball and Ashe put winger John Ryberg over for his first try as a Giltini.
At the 44-minute mark, flanker Angus Cottrell’s leg drive bullocked a path through three defenders and it was 31-9.
The Giltinis had to stand up to the physical challenge of an Arrows team with 15 Test players from Canada, Argentina and Uruguay in their match-day squad.
“We were definitely under the pump at times against the best team we’ve played against,” Giltinis assistant coach Stephen Hoiles said.
“Collective areas like our set-piece defense against the lineout drives and scrummaging against some tough internationals showed real resilience which we were very pleased with.
“We had the travel factor and an early middle of the day start and I think Toronto being vocal and up for it really brought up our intensity.”
Alert scrumhalf Harrison Goddard made some good ground with smart kicking and scored his fourth try of the MLR season midway through the second half.
He scooted down the blindside close to the line for 36-9.
Harry and Sean McNulty created a slice of Giltinis’ history as the first brothers to play together when reserve hooker Sean joined the fray for the final 28 minutes.
Flanker Harry celebrated with his diving try with five minutes to go.
The Giltinis did lose starting lock, Corey Thomas, with a left knee knock just before half-time.
Before his exit, the Canadian passport-holder was one of the most influential forwards on the field with the extra size he has put on over the past 14 months since finishing with Japan’s Sunwolves in Super Rugby.
He crashed over for the opening try after seven minutes and dashed into space off a flat Matt Giteau pass just before his injury.
The option-taking and crispness of play from halves pairing Goddard and Giteau was again a decisive edge for the Giltinis.