Jebel Ali Dragons have turned up the heat on themselves by taking their play-off dreams down to the final day of the West Asia Premiership season – but captain Ross Samson says he expects his team to thrive rather than wilt in the heat of battle tomorrow night.
Dragons welcome Abu Dhabi Saracens to their newly-refurbished Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence home where victory will secure fourth spot and a chance at West Asia Cup glory.
One glance at the table would suggest Dragons are heavy favourites for victory but what it won’t show is how determined the visitors will be to secure a win that aides their chances of a home play-off against Dubai Hurricanes in the end-of-season West Asia Trophy as well as ensuring they don’t finish bottom of the table.
And Samson is expecting a ferocious encounter.
“To be honest, every game in this region is hotly contested and every club wants bragging rights over the other so I’m expecting them to turn up and throw everything at us,” said the Scotsman.
“We had a close game up at their place this year and it will be the same this week.
“We are looking forward to finally playing at home again for the first time in 2017 and it’s a must win game for us. Everybody at the club is hungry to make the top four play-offs.”
Dragons have long been in the ascendancy to claim fourth ahead of fallen champions Dubai Exiles, but defeat to Dubai Hurricanes last week means they must win tomorrow.
Samson added: “We were poor last week against a gritty Canes team that took their chances really well, so it’s now last chance saloon for us and I’m expecting a big reaction from the boys.”
As for Sarries, what the table also doesn’t immediately reveal is how unlucky Winston Cowie’s side have been this season – with five of their nine defeats coming by seven points or less.
“The team has put a lot of effort in this season although that hasn’t shown on the table,” said New Zealander Cowie.
“We are looking to finish strongly against what will be a desperate Dragons outfit. Being desperate brings its own pressure and it will be interesting to see how the Dragons deal with that.
“It’s exciting for us at this stage of the season to play in such a game and if we come out on top we have home advantage going into the Trophy play-offs. There is plenty to play for and we are up for it.”