Eddie Walsh expects a much closer affair when his Abu Dhabi Harlequins meet Jebel Ali Dragons in the Community League final on Friday
Quins thrashed Ian Jones’ side 72-24 in October but Walsh predicts one score will settle the final, to be played at Dubai Sports City.
“They’ve turned their season around so we’re expecting a different beast this time around,” said the Quins coach.
“I think their pride will still be hurt from that game and they’ll come at us all guns blazing.”
Defeat to Quins proved to be the only defeat of the season for Dragons, who went on to win their other seven games as they finished top of the pile, one point ahead of Quins.
Walsh, whose side also lost once too, a 7-5 defeat to Dubai Wasps 2nds, added: “Earlier in the season we played a bit of a weakened Dragons and won 72-24. It was second or third game and we ended up playing without front rows so I don’t think that was a true reflection of Dragons, it was just an aberration.
“I can’t imagine there’ll be more than one score in the game. But we have confidence and we’re looking forward to playing these guys.”
Walsh revealed he and his players had not believed they would be playing for silverware at the start of the campaign, but said his charges are chomping at the bit for the final having played just twice in 2017.
“The guys are over the moon. We haven’t had a game in a few weeks and only played twice since Christmas so there’s a lot of pent up frustration, everyone’s amped for the final,” he said.
“We started off as a developmental, social team, and I don’t think at the start of the season anyone would have envisioned us making a final, let alone having three teams in a final. What’s happened this year is simply unbelievable.”
Jones, meanwhile, is hoping Dragons can go one better after losing at the same stage last year to Beaver Nomads.
“The boys are full of confidence and the energy in camp this week has been great,” said Jones.
“We are expecting a hard game against Quins but hope to do our club and sponsors proud by starting the day off with a win. Dragons are really excited to be in the final and make up for the disappointing loss last year to Beavers.”