The real LA Giltinis surfaced in Canada tonight with a super-charged second half setting up a dominant 31-16 victory over the Toronto Arrows.
The three-try, 19-0 statement in the final 40 minutes was the perfect way to bounce back after the ragged showing in Houston in Round One.
The excellent Giltinis defence kept the Arrows scoreless in the second half even though they played 15 minutes with only 14 men because backs Jordan Trainor and John Ryberg were yellow carded.
There was more punch from the pack, more speed and polish to the way the Giltinis attacked and far more purpose to reverse a halftime deficit in Langford on Vancouver Island.
Two-try flanker Angus Cottrell and classy scrumhalf Harrison Goddard were standouts while new hooker Andrew Tuala (below) and centre Billy Meakes also had strong input.
Meakes, center partner Ben LeSage and Tuala were prominent in defence when the Giltinis were repelling the Arrows’ best attacks in the first half.
The Giltinis had to shake off a slow start of their making when 10-0 down after 12 minutes.
The rushing Arrows defence had already charged down a kick by Goddard when more of the same pressure smothered an attempted clearing kick by fullback Trainor close to his own line.
Arrows lock and captain Mike Sheppard gratefully accepted the deflected ball and scored under the posts.
Soon after, the Giltinis started to find their groove when Tuala made the sort of bumping, line-splitting run over 30m that won him renown in Australia.
At the 17-minute mark, the Giltinis made the most of a mauling surge off a 5m lineout. Flanker Angus Cottrell’s pick-and-go produced the try.
When the Arrows had pushed their lead to 16-5, it was again Cottrell’s expertise in tight that closed the gap to 16-12.
From another 5m lineout platform, Cottrell made a sharp pick-and-go to dot down under the posts.
Cottrell was nearly over for a third time late in the first half when the Giltinis again backed their pack to pound ahead close to the tryline.
Giltinis lock Dave Dennis lay prone on the ground after a collision when carting the ball forward early in the second half. He managed to walk off and returned to the field to lead the win after a head knock assessment was positive.
Goddard’s class shone at the 47-minute mark after a strong build-up of phases left him with the ball at the ruckbase close to the Arrows tryline.
He snapped a three-man cutout pass to Will Chambers (below) on the sideline and the winger charged over for a 17-16 lead. It was the ideal way to put a hush to the cheering from the crowd who were watching the Arrows on Canadian soil for the first time since 2019.
The Giltinis were over again near the hour mark. Good John Ryberg hustle when chasing a high kick forced a loose ball which bounced to Nathan Den Hoedt. The big lock fed flanker Hanco Germishuys who dashed 30m for a try.
Forward Corey Thomas made a sharp gallop to pierce the Arrows defence with 10 minutes to play. He linked with Goddard, who speared away to score.
There was redemption at scrum-time too. The reserve front-row of Luke White, Sean McNulty and Les Leuluaialii-Makin twice shunted the Arrows pack to earn two scrum penalties late in the game.
Giltinis head coach Stephen Hoiles was delighted with the improved patience and execution of his side.
“We got ourselves in a spot of bother early but we broke down the Arrows’ very good defence in time by battering away and showing patience until their line speed ebbed,” Hoiles said.
“Our scrum finishing so strongly was excellent to see and the starting front-row set that up."
“When you have the Arrows flying up so fast in defence, it was very smart play by Corey Thomas to go through the middle and set up that key try."
“You have to admire Dave Dennis. We thought he was gone early and he came back to lead the charge.”
It was a quality win for the Giltinis against an Arrows team with 11 Canadian internationals.
LA GILTINIS 31
Try: Angus Cottrell (17, 26), Will Chambers (47), Hanco Germishuys (58), Harrison Goddard (70)
Conversion: Luke Burton (26, 58, 70)
TORONTO ARROWS 16
Tries: Mike Sheppard (12)
Penalty goals: Will Kelly (1, 20, 24)
Conversion: Will Kelly (12)
Half-time: 16-12 Arrows
Venue: Starlight Stadium, Langford, Canada