Bahrain V Muscat 10th March 2017 – Bahrain, Gulf Conference

First Half

Bahrain backed up their defeat of Doha 2’s the previous week with a hard fought win over league leaders Muscat. The home side supported again by a large crowd started the livelier of the two teams putting Muscat under some serious pressure for the opening 10 minutes, their pressure nearly paid off when a potential try was thwarted by a foot in touch due to a last gasp tackle by the Muscat wing on his opposite number.

Once Muscat settled they started stringing the phases together and edged closer to the Bahrain try line, the first Muscat try came from the quick thinking of the Muscat 10 who when just inside the Bahrain 22 took a quick tap and go form a penalty and jogged unopposed in under the post, he duly converted his own try and Muscat had achieved what Bahrain hadn’t and had come away with full points from their first meaningful attack.

Muscat kept up the pressure and were further rewarded by Bahrain poor discipline, a yellow card for a high tackle could have been followed by an additional 2 yellow cards (1 for another high tackle & one for an off the ball incident) but the referee kept the card in the pocket on those occasions. Bahrain’s mounting penalty count eventually resulted in a very kickable penalty for Muscat directly in front of the post 25 meters out … but it was missed.

Bahrain soon sorted out their disciplinary issues and began exerting some of their experience to playing a more direct game, they were rewarded with a try in the corner after finally breaking Muscat’s resilient defence, the conversion was missed.

With little time left on the clock Muscat showed again why they are league leaders with some brilliant forwards play , phase after phase had them soon advancing towards the Bahrain try line and eventually Muscat touched down . However the again very kickable conversion was missed. That ended the half with Muscat leading by 5-12 at half time but must have disappointed after leaving an additional 5 points behind them with the missed kicks.

Second Half

The second half was definitely for those who like the action to be dominated by forwards, Muscat showed some serious pressure in the scrums & both sides 7’s had a tit for tat contest for turn overs.

The difference in this half was that Muscat despite all their pressure were unable to come away with any points , Muscat came out of the blocks the better and for the initial 20 minutes dominated the scrums , were solid in the line outs and showed some good maul play. Bahrain defence lasted as long as it could. With Muscat crossing the line on 3 separate occasions, somehow all 3 were ruled not have been tries by the referee to the frustration of the Muscat team.

Bahrain did enormously well to soak up the pressure and eventually gained access to the Muscat half, and when they did they they came away with points, first a penalty to close the gap to 8-12 and secondly and more importantly after sorting out their front row with a few astute front row substitutions pushed the penalty count in their favor, They forced penalty after penalty, some coming from the simple fact Muscat failed to get back 10 fast enough. Eventually they were in kicking distance but had to go for the line out as a penalty wouldn’t have been enough.

Muscat failed to steal and disrupt the line out and a text book drive over the line sealed the deal for Bahrain, the conversion sailed over and with only a minute left on the clock Muscat gallantly tried to get at least a kickable penalty to try and save their unbeaten run however continuing the theme of scrappy indecisive backs play in the second half from both sides the ball was knocked on out in the backs and Bahrain had won.

Bahrain will take pride from the fact they have beaten 2 of their big rivals at home and will want to complete the treble against Kuwait on the 31st of March to give them hope for next seasons, Muscat will rue the points left behind and their inability to finish the game off in the second half but will be happy to go away with the crucial losing bonus point which still ensures they are in a good position to finish top.

Next up for Muscat is the tough away trip to Kuwait, whilst Bahrain have 2 weeks off before they face Kuwait at home.