Sunday, May 22, 2022

Game Preview: Argonauts, Tiger-Cats clash for rematch in the Six

TORONTO — In a rematch of Monday’s Labour Day Classic, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats make their way to BMO Field to tangle with the Toronto Argonauts on Friday Night Football.

Riding high off their dominant 32-19 win in their long-awaited home opener during Mark’s Labour Day Weekend, Hamilton is looking to continue their upward trajectory.

With a record of 2-0 since their bye week, all aspects of their game have seen improvement. Offensively, Dane Evans has returned to his efficient, accurate 2019 self as he has thrown for combined four touchdowns in that time.

On special teams, Frankie Williams has now put the league on notice twice as he has shined in back-to-back punt and kick return performances. With their defence now finding their rhythm as well, they look to create some separation in the three-way tie for first in the East Division between themselves, the Argos and the Montreal Alouettes.

While facing the same opponent can make preparation easier as game plans don’t alter tremendously, Ticats’ head coach Orlondo Steineaur knows that the same outcome isn’t not promised.

“I don’t feel there is any carry-over,” said Steinauer. “They didn’t give us four points or six points for that victory; you get the same two points. It’s going to be zero-to-zero, it’s going to be super physical and we’re going to get their best…when they’re playing like that, you find out what you’re made of.”

While he can’t deny the uplifting energy that Ticats’ fans provide at Tim Hortons Field, Simoni Lawrence has had some undeniable success in Toronto.

During the Argos’ first-ever game at BMO Field in 2016, Lawrence tormented then quarterback Ricky Ray and the Double Blue offence, recording seven defensive tackles, a pair of sacks and a pick-six. His success would not end there, in 2019 Lawrence picked off and sacked starting quarterback James Franklin. Given his resume playing in the province’s capital, it should be no surprise that he is looking forward to Friday’s game.

“I just like the atmosphere in Toronto,” said Lawrence. “I understand we have a really good defensive team and we put on a great show and our team as a whole just puts on a great show for Toronto. My Toronto friends always tell me that they love when we come into town, it’s like the funnest game they get to watch.”

In Toronto, the mood is different as the Argonauts look to respond, but have been in this situation before having played the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Weeks 2 and 3.

While the first game did not go their way as they lost at IG Field 20-7, they bounced back the following week under Nick Arbuckle in the team’s 30-23 win at BMO Field. That contest saw the Argonauts play their most complete game of the young season as Arbuckle threw for 310 yards and the Argos as a whole generated a staggering 170 more yards on offence.

With the fear of dropping two in a row, Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie knows how important Friday is.

“The unfortunate part is, you want to get the first one won and then you don’t feel the pressure we feel,” said Dinwiddie. “So as a staff, we’re really feeling that we have to find a way to get a win this week.”

One area that Dinwiddie is looking to improve upon this week to help him come out on the other side is the execution of big plays.

“We have to find a way to have some explosive plays,” said Dinwiddie. “I always look to have four or more 25+ each week in our goals.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Dinwiddie was happy with the performance of his unit. Having pressured and brought down Evans three times on the day, he knows that his defence can keep them in close games, but feels that they will need to find another gear this week.

“I thought we did a good job with just the front four getting after him [Evans], but we’ve got to be better on Friday, though,” said Dinwiddie.

Kickoff for the second-straight Battle of the QEW is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN, RDS and ESPN+ and can also be follow along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.

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