With files from Brock Smith, Ontario Arrows Communications [Photo Credit: Judy Teasdale Photography]
(SUGAR LAND, TX) - The Ontario Arrows made the 2,500-kilometre trek to Sugar Land, TX, looking for a statement performance against Major League Rugby’s Houston SaberCats, and after 80 minutes of thrilling, back-and-forth rugby at Constellation Field, the travelling Arrows achieved their goal.
The Arrows, Canada’s first privately-funded high-performance rugby team, played the SaberCats to a 28-28 draw in their season-opening match on Mar. 3, 2018.
The scoreline remained close throughout the entirety of the match, with neither side building a lead of more than eight points throughout the ping-pong affair.
Crashing first-half tries from captain Mike Sheppard and hooker Andrew Quattrin brought the Arrows to within one point of the hosts, 18-17, at the halftime whistle.
A diving try from wing John Sheridan put the Arrows ahead early in the second half, but after conceding two SaberCats tries throughout a six-minute span in the late stages of the match, Ontario required a last-minute 40-metre penalty goal from 20-year-old substitute Will Kelly to pull the match level at 28 points apiece.
“I was very impressed with what I saw from our team,” said Arrows head coach Chris Silverthorn, following the match. “We’re down here for our first game of the year, and most of our guys haven’t played a game of rugby in five months coming out of our off-season. With the energy and the effort that was shown, we are over the moon with the shift that we put in against this MLR side.”
“We came down here looking for a competitive, physical match, and it was a great game,” said Arrows captain Sheppard. “We knew Houston would be a big, physical side, and we started the game ready to go at each other. We battled for every single inch, and every score was hard-fought. We came here ready to show that we’re at the same level as these new professional sides, and I think we did just that.”
“We fielded a very young side for our opener, with the majority of our players still in university,” added Silverthorn. “We’re a team that’s still learning, and with our veterans like Shep, Rob, and Tom, who helped carry the weight, we’re moving in the right direction. Our opener provided many great lessons that we’ll take with us as we continue our inaugural season. We couldn’t be happier with the way we’re headed, and we’re going to go a long way from here.”
The Arrows will resume their six-match spring season on Mar. 17, when Ontario travels to New York for a St. Patrick’s Day fixture against the newly-formed Rugby United New York.
Ontario Arrows Score Report
Tries: M. Sheppard (26), A. Quattrin (40), J. Sheridan (42)
Conversions: S. Windsor 2 (27, 40)
Penalties: S. Windsor 2 (10, 60), W. Kelly (79)
Houston SaberCats Score Report
Tries: M. Trouville (3), Z. Pangelinan (34), J. Turnbull (65), J. Vici (71)
Conversions: S. Windsor (35)
Penalties: S. Windsor 2 (24, 31)
Ontario Arrows Lineup vs. Houston SaberCats
1. Rob Brouwer, Lindsay RFC
2. Andrew Quattrin, Aurora Barbarians
3. Tom Dolezel, London St. Georges
4. Mike Sheppard (C), Stoney Creek Camels
5. Paul Ciulini, Aurora Barbarians
6. Peter Milazzo, Toronto Saracens
7. Marcello Wainwright, Toronto Saracens
8. Kolby Francis, Brantford Harlequins
9. Alex Gliksten, Saracens U20
10. Shawn Windsor, Stoney Creek Camels
11. Jon West, Balmy Beach
12. Jamie Leveridge, Crusaders
13. Mitch Richardson, Stoney Creek Camels
14. John Sheridan, Markham Irish
15. Aaron McLelland, UBCOB Ravens
16. Jack McRogers, Aurora Barbarians
17. Pat Lynott, Bytown Blues
18. Mike Smith, Toronto Scottish
19. Josh Van Horne, Brantford Harlequins
20. Andrew Wilson, Crusaders
21. Mario Van Der Westhuizen, Guelph Redcoats
22. Cooper Coats, Halifax Tars RFC
23. Will Kelly, Brantford Harlequins
Head Coach: Chris Silverthorn
Assistant Coaches: David Butcher, Aaron Carpenter, Cory Hector
General Manager: Mark Winokur
Performance Analyst: Rodin Lozada
Athletic Therapist: Chris Kelly
Team Doctor: Dr. John Gillis
About Ontario Arrows Rugby Club:
The Ontario Arrows Rugby Club is Canada’s first privately-funded high-performance rugby team.
The team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://ontarioarrowsrugby.com/
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