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Veteran prop Jake Ilnicki, shown here in action in the Seattle Seawolves’s 39-17 loss to the Toronto Arrows on Feb. 22, 2020, in Tukwila, Wash., is one of several Canadians on Seattle’s Major League Rugby team.The Canadian Press

The Toronto Arrows ran in seven tries Saturday to thrash the Seattle Seawolves 52-7 in Major League Rugby play.

Both teams came into the game in need of a win ranked at the bottom in their respective conferences.

Toronto (2-3-0) and Seattle (1-3-0) lost their first two games of the season before bouncing back with wins.

The Arrows were coming off a 43-16 loss to the expansion Los Angeles Giltinis while the Seawolves, MLR champions in 2018 and ‘19, beat the Utah Warriors 20-15 last time out.

It was a dominant performance by the Arrows, who had the error-prone Seawolves on the back foot from the get-go.

Joaquin Tuculet, Ben LeSage, Ross Braude, Patrick Parfrey, Jack McRogers, Jason Higgins and Gaston Cortes scored tries for Toronto, which led 24-0 at the half.

Tayler Adams kicked five conversions and a penalty. Toronto got two automatic conversions for scoring under the posts.

Mike Shepherd scored Seattle’s lone try. Ben Cima booted a conversion.

“All week (in training) we tried to get the little things rights,” said Parfrey. “We wanted to work on our defence which was really good today. And then we wanted to just hold on to the ball and build phases, which we did.

“The things we worked on in practice we brought to the game. So we’re pretty happy with the team performance.”

The game was originally a noon ET start, but was pushed forward to 10:30 a.m. because of an event later in the day at Life University’s Lupo Family Field.

Time was needed to follow COVID-19 protocols in cleaning the facility.

Toronto has set up shop in suburban Atlanta due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, and shares facilities with Rugby ATL.

Saturday’s early start did not seem to affect the Arrows, who led 14-0 after 10 minutes.

The first try came in the third minute via a multiple-phase attack after Seattle was penalized at the breakdown.

Tuculet who has 56 caps for Argentina, darted through a hole in the Seattle defence after Adams, ignoring two decoy runners, found him with a long pass.

LeSage went over in the ninth minute, taking a pass from Manuel Montero after the Argentine international breached the Seattle defence from a scrum.

Adams kicked a 16th-minute penalty to extend the lead to 17-0.

Handling errors and penalties did not help Seattle’s attempt to climb out of the early hole.

The Toronto backs carved open Seattle in the 28th minute with LeSage, Tuculet and Uruguayan winger Gaston Mieres beating defenders before Braude touched down under the posts for a 24-0 lead.

Parfrey playing at centre rather than fullback ran through a hole in the Seattle defence to touch down under the posts five minutes into the second half to stretch the lead to 31-0.

The Seawolves appeared to have scored in the 51st minute after laying siege to the Toronto try-line but all they got was a scrum.

Shepherd scored minutes later on a rolling maul following a lineout with the converted try making it 31-7.

Toronto answered in the 56th minute with McRogers touching down after a Toronto attack down the blindside following a Seattle turnover.

Higgins upped the lead to 45-7 with a converted try in the 61st minute after an interception by Uruguayan international No. 8 Manuel Diana.

Cortes bulled his way over in the 71st minute to make it 52-7.

The Arrows matchday 23 featured 15 Canadians, including 21-year-old debutant Mason Flesch in the second row.

Centre Spencer Jones came off the bench for his first appearance for the club since June 2019 due to a knee injury.

There were 13 full internationals in the Arrows’ squad — six from Canada, four from Argentina and three from Uruguay.

Canadians props Jake Ilnicki and Djustice Sears-Duru and centre George Barton started for Seattle.

Seattle lost flanker Andrew Durutalo to injury in the first half.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2021

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