Marcello Wainwright and his Toronto Arrows teammates snapped the San Diego Legion’s four-game winning streak in convincing fashion, stunning their hosts with a comeback 27-20 road victory.
Trailing by as many as 17 points early in the second half, the visiting Arrows stormed back by scoring 24 unanswered points against their California hosts to earn a statement win at Torero Stadium.
San Diego held the bulk of possession and territory in the first half, and set the tone when debutant No. 8 Jordan Manihera opened the scoring with a slicing try less than a minute into the match.
A Sam Malcolm penalty goal cut into San Diego’s early lead, but Legion flanker Psalm Wooching responded minutes later by barging across to double the home side’s try tally just before the first-half hydration break.
San Diego capped off a dominant first-half performance when captain Joe Pietersen added a penalty at the stroke of halftime, giving the hosts a 14-point advantage heading into the break.
The Legion continued their probing play coming out of the interval, and tacked on three additional points via a drop goal from Pietersen three minutes into the second frame.
Down but not out, Arrows wing Avery Oitomen kicked off the comeback in the 51st minute with his first of two tries on the evening. Outside centre Spencer Jones set up the speeding Oitomen with pass that beckoned the important line break, with the winger then juking a would-be tackle from Legion fullback Kyle Rogers to give the travelling Arrows a shot of confidence.
The 19-year-old scored his second Try just three minutes later. After a trio of Toronto forwards were stymied at goal line, the ball was spun out to Oitomen, who found enough space to dive in for his second try.
Just minutes later, Arrows hooker Andrew Quattrin found a hole in San Diego’s defensive ranks to get within inches of the goal line, and lock Mike Sheppard drove the rest of the way to give Toronto its first lead of the match.
Malcolm, who was perfect with the boot throughout the night, added a penalty goal in the 71st minute to put the Arrows ahead by seven points.
With the victory far from guaranteed, Toronto mounted a strong defensive stand in the final minutes of the match, and forced two crucial turnovers to seal the memorable win.