There were some brilliant games last night in Gulf Rugby’s top tier of rugby and it is proving harder and harder to see a clear overall winner as we approach the ‘sevens’ break.
With Bahrain having the weekend off following Al Ain’s withdrawal, all the games took part in the UAE, as Doha travelled to Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi found themselves down 17 – 7 at half time, but Harlequins have always managed to rally, especially at home in front of a big crowd. The final score of 23-23 reflecting the challenge of top tier rugby now and it is a welcome for the development of rugby in the region.
Another surprise was unfolding in Jebel Ali, where Henry Paul’s early season request for patience has certainly been rewarded as Dragons become the 2nd team to unseat champions Dubai Exiles in successive weekends. The final score 42 – 30 leaving coaches rueing the chances and mistakes in the game, which reflects further the expectation and potential of players and the level of competition.
At the Sevens and 2 teams looking to consolidate great wins last week to start a charge up the league table saw a last-minute penalty by Andrew Powell snatch a slender Saracens lead after Hurricanes themselves had led for much of the game. Playing his first game of the season, Ollie Turton made a big impact in the centres, giving Hurricanes good front foot ball and the canes scrambled defence and error reduction stopped Saracens punishing mistakes. The final score 18 – 16 a great relief to the Hurricanes side line supporters.
In the conference league and Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s continued the winning theme with a 22 – 10 win over Heartbeat Tigers in a win that has big implications on the league table.
Dubai Wasps put in a much better display against Jebel Ali Dragons, who despite all the chat, only had 2 players different from last weekend’s fixture against Sharjah. The Wasps were a lot more abrasive in defence and the final 15 – 5 score line may be a loss, but it was a positive sign for Wasps.
Dubai Exiles also continued their winning way, leaving Dragons and Exiles in 1st and 2nd, but they also did not run in a cricket score against a usually hard fighting Knights team. Final score 27 – 3.
Sharjah visited the garden city expecting fireworks from an Al Ain team now settled firmly back in the conference league and the Amblers conference team of old were back to winning well, with a commanding 48 – 25 victory. Sharjah dropping 3 games in a row and will start to be nervous about the improvements of some of the conference teams.
In our final conference result, the game between Hurricanes and Sharks became a fascinating affair, as Sharks rushed into a comfortable and controlling lead, suddenly started to wilt under the pressure from a Hurricanes team, who seemingly did nothing more than just keep playing. At 1 point, ahead and about 6 minutes to go Sharks had a penalty which they turned down. The quick tap saw a try scored, but the subsequent conversion was missed. Hurricanes kicking off, sensed an opportunity to steal the game, now down in Sharks end, and there seemed finally a genuine want to finish a game off from the Hurricanes. A lot of sustained pressure was rewarded with the try only for the final line to be fluffed as the ball clattered into the upright hard enough to hear a tune from the vibration.
A great fun game for the spectators to be honest and with Tigers and Sharjah losing, this potentially has Sharks in 3rd place and with a few questions marks on their game, they are certainly looking a team that wants to go further.
Finally, in the community league. Dubai Wasps had something to cheer about again as Wasps 2 put away Amblers 3 on Thursday night 11 – 3, but the biggest story in the community league must be Beavers Nomads first community league loss as Abu Dhabi Baa Baas continued their own home ground winning run. The final 30 – 17 score line great for the league and the community league looking like a 3 way race this season.
Photo credit – Charley Bath