Wolfpack avenge only league loss in return to home stadium
Toronto extends Betfred Championship win streak to 12
The party continues for the Toronto Wolfpack.
The transatlantic rugby league team celebrated its return to Lamport Stadium on Saturday with a 32-12 victory over the London Broncos, extending its win streak to 12 straight in league play while avenging an earlier loss to the visitors.
The Wolfpack are used to winning — their career league record stands at 34-2-2 — but they still like to celebrate a victory. Victoria's Quinn Ngawati, the lone Canadian on Toronto's books, showed off his New Zealand roots by doing the haka in the dressing room while Blake Wallace led the team in a victory song that finished with drinks flying in the air.
Wallace was hard to miss. After losing a FIFA video game battle with fullback Gareth O'Brien, he had to dye his hair. The Australian looked like his head had been dipped in custard.
Home sweet home
Because of renovations to Lamport, the official home opener came four months into the season. The Wolfpack's only previous home game — a 62-14 win over Swinton Lions on May 5 — had to be played at Fletcher's Fields north of the city because Lamport wasn't ready.
An enthusiastic crowd, announced at 7,384, was on hand to greet the Wolfpack, who lived up to their motto "Defend the Den." Toronto has yet to lose at home in its first two seasons.
Despite the string of wins in the second-tier Betfred Championship, Wolfpack coach Paul Rowley says the best is yet to come.
"I thought today was a victory for grit, determination, resilience and attitude," he said. "But in terms of executions and smarts, then we've got quite a few more levels in us.
"I think there was quite a bit of nerves around the camp. Because we're really proud of the record we've got here and we want to defend the den and keep it undefeated. We're very very proud of it. Being the first game back as been such a long way, I felt it was a strange atmosphere in the buildup.
Saturday's match was the first of eight straight at home to end the regular season.
The Broncos are the only team to beat Toronto in league play this season, thumping the visiting Wolfpack 47-16 on Feb. 25.
League-leading Toronto (14-1-1) has won 12 in a row since that setback. Its only other loss this season was a 66-10 beatdown at the hands of Super League side Warrington in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
London (10-6-0) has lost three of its last five.
Cory Paterson scored two tries for Toronto with Liam Kay, Josh McCrone and Ryan Brierley adding singles. Brierley kicked four conversions and two penalties.
Malta international Jarrod Sammut and Elliott Kear scored tries for London. Sammut added two conversions.
What a way for the <a href="https://twitter.com/TOwolfpack?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TOwolfpack</a> to cap off their home opener and what a game for <a href="https://twitter.com/RyanBrierley?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RyanBrierley</a> <br><br>Final score: <a href="https://twitter.com/TOwolfpack?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TOwolfpack</a> 32 - 12 <a href="https://twitter.com/LondonBroncosRL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LondonBroncosRL</a><a href="https://t.co/dwgQk4O9R3">https://t.co/dwgQk4O9R3</a> <a href="https://t.co/Vs49Wpaq6l">pic.twitter.com/Vs49Wpaq6l</a>—@cbcsports
Paterson, an Australian playing in his first game at Lamport, called the reception from the fans "a bit overwhelming ... a bit humbling too."
The game was the first on the new artificial turf surface at Lamport, installed by the city at a cost of $810,000.
Kay said the new surface was "head and shoulders better than last year."