LONDON â€” The Toronto Wolfpack began their long-term quest to reach the top flight of English rugby league in confident style on Saturday, running in 13 tries in a 76-0 defeat of London Skolars.
Forward Fuifui Moi Moi had three tries, including two in the second half, in Toronto’s opening game in Kingstone Press League 1, the third tier of the English game.
“It was the perfect start. We reminded people that we are not a bad side,” Wolfpack coach Paul Rowley said. “We have got some good attackers and, on a fast track like that, we could play a good brand of rugby. But our defence was strong too. We didn’t just stop them, we were quite brutal at times.”
Rowley, a former England international was impressed with Moi Moi, a constant threat in attack and defence.
“Moi Moi is box office. I would pay money to watch him,” Rowley said. “He has a big frame and leg speed and he doesn’t have a hand brake. You don’t want to stand in his way.”
Wingers Jonny Pownall and Liam Kay had two tries apiece, one in each half. Centre Greg Worthington grabbed two tries in the second half.
The Wolfpack dominated play right from the kickoff with six tries in the first half from Pownall, Kay, Moi Moi, Craig Hall, Bob Beswick and Andrew Dixon for a formidable 34-0 halftime lead.
Captain Hall, who kicked an impressive 24 points and missed just one conversion, scored the Wolfpack’s first league try under the posts in the first 10 minutes.
The Wolfpack have high ambitions to reach the Super League, England’s top level, within five years. The Super League showpiece game of the season â€” the Challenge Cup final â€” is played at London’s 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium.
Toronto began its league history in a less glamorous part of north London, the Skolars’ tiny New River Stadium with just one main stand for around 1,200 spectators. The stand was full, however, for the Wolfpack’s visit and English rugby league’s newest team put on a polished performance in front of 1,500 spectators.
By midway through the second half, the Wolfpack were running in tries with the confidence of a training session with Worthington’s two touchdowns and Samoan fullback Quentin Laula-Togaga also getting on the score sheet.
Despite the strong start, Rowley expects fierce opposition for Toronto in the rest of its league matches this season. He said his team would not be getting carried away by the strong start.
“People want to knock us off our perch,” he said. “They want us to be arrogant. But we are not. We are humble and grounded.”
Adrian Warner, The Canadian Press