Quins post third-highest win of season to end on a high

West Asia Premiership champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins brought the curtain down on their league campaign with an impressive seven-try thrashing of Bahrain.

Matt Jones
by Matt Jones
18th March 2017

article:18th March 2017

Quins No8 Conor Canny.
Quins No8 Conor Canny.

At a windswept Zayed Sports City, Mike McFarlane’s men sent out an ominous warning to Jebel Ali Dragons, who they will face next week in the semi-finals of the West Asia Cup, that they are fired up to complete a clean sweep of honours this season.

Quins added the Premiership title to their Dubai Sevens and Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League at the end of February, but will boast a five-trophy haul in 2016/17 if they can also lift the Cup and UAE Premiership.


The Premiership title may have been sewn up in calamitous circumstances – Quins were handed the title when last night’s opponents informed them last month the competition was actually based on a league format and not knockout – but they did not take their foot off the pedal against Bahrain.

“This was not a dead rubber for us, definitely not,” said Scottish scrum-half Andrew Semple, who shone at fly-half with Luke Stevenson rested.

“Last time we had a two week break we didn’t come back from it well.  We’ve got an unbeaten home record here and we’re not going to give it up easily just because it was a dead rubber.

“We said that with the wind it would be a tight first half and we talked about using the elements to our advantage in the second half and it worked well. We played in the right areas.”

Bahrain coach Louie Tonkin shouldered the blame for perhaps focusing too much on next week’s mouthwatering Cup semi-final clash against Doha, but is adamant his team will quickly erase the memory of their biggest defeat of the season.

“You can’t turn up against a team like Abu Dhabi and expect to compete when you’re not on par mentally,” said the Welshman, with things going wrong for his side early in the day following a four-hour delayed flight.

“They’re a very, very good side and showed why they’re league champions and any team coming here has to be 100 per cent switched on and accurate if they’re going to have any chance of winning.

Irishman Brian Geraghty (l) celebrates St Patrick’s Day with a try.

Irishman Brian Geraghty (l) celebrates St Patrick’s Day with a try.

“There’s no question we had one eye on the semi next week. I take the responsibility for that, perhaps focusing our game plan too much on Doha when we’re coming to the league champions last game of the season and trying to gain momentum.

“That’s my fault and I’m 100 per confident the boys will bounce back and be a completely different side next week.”

With this game being a write off in terms of significance there was a concern it would lead to a dour encounter. But any such fears were swept away by the snarling wind bellowing around Zayed Sports City in a frenetic first 40 minutes.

The hosts opened up a 12-0 lead through lock Patrick Jenkinson’s simple opening try from a lineout, before flanker Gerrit Visser finished off a slick handling move instigated by Willie Umu’s barnstorming run.

But the red wave retaliated to level at the break. First hooker Lindsey Gibson dived over when he cleverly took a quick tap when Quins were penalised after Bahrain had driven them back via penalties and penetration.

Tonkin’s side were suddenly rampant and after a multitude of phases that criss-crossed the field, centre Lewis Chance pierced a hole in a tiring Quins defence – Umu’s yellow card didn’t help – to dot down under the post to level the scores.

It should have set up a scintillating second half, but instead Bahrain imploded.

Quins were 24-12 up with two tries in a minute. First they were given a penalty try before rapid Irish centre Brian Geraghty chipped ahead and outpaced the visiting defence, collecting brilliantly with one hand to cross.

Down to 14 themselves following the penalty try, Bahrain briefly weathered the storm before the floodgates opened.

Visser went over for his second before replacement Vito Tuivione sliced through, another replacement Tom Brown streaking clear to make it the magnificent seven for Quins.

The away side stuck to their task and were rewarded with a consolation score at the death for winger Greg Heath.


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