Two of the West Asia Championship’s best forward packs will go toe to toe at Al Ghazal on Friday as Abu Dhabi Saracens host Dubai Hurricanes.
Resurgent Sarries will be looking to leapfrog their opponents in the table with victory, while Canes will hope to continue their good progress in the competition and keep the pressure on the top sides.
It is Sarries’ final home game of the season and captain Jaen Botes admits his side are keen to sign off on a high.
“It’s our last game at home for the season and I’m sure the boys will be up for a good game,” said the Number 8.
“We have worked hard over the last couple of weeks on correcting key areas of our game and it looks positive leading into Friday.”
The South African is looking forward to welcoming back compatriot Lehan Koekemoer to the side, having not been available so far in 2016, while he is also relishing a powerful battle of front with Canes’ pack.
“We welcome back Lehan in the second row, he was a massive loss for us after Christmas due to visa issues but he’s finally back now and I’m sure his presence on the field will be a massive asset,” he said.
“We know they have a strong pack and we know we will have to work hard if we want to come away with a win. It will be a dog fight up front but it’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Prop and joint head coach Craig Nutt is missing but otherwise Sarries are nearly at full strength.
Canes hooker Chris Gregory is also looking forward to a physical encounter.
“We’re looking forward to stepping up the intensity and opening up and playing an expansive game,” he said.
“The club is in good spirits. The forwards have been working well together recently and have bags of energy with the backs ready to hit the hard lines and make breaks.
“Sarries will always have the home advantage but we’re confident in our defence and know we have the fire power in attack.”
Skipper Daniel Perry said he is proud of his side collecting seven bonus points in the competition and hopes a sixth try-scoring bonus point in seven games can be achieved in the capital.
“The mood is good after the Al Ain win and, as a team I think we’ve performed well in the West Asia Championship,” said Perry.
“I think we have got a try bonus in every game bar the Dragons hiccup so the lads are full of confidence. We were a sloppy in the last 10 away at Sarries last time but we know how hard it will be going up there and want to right the wrongs of the last fixture.”
Bahrain vs Al Ain Amblers
The mood in the Al Ain Amblers camp has been lifted in recent weeks and the club are looking to build on that feel-good atmosphere as they head west to Bahrain on Friday.
Amblers won for the first time in nearly a year against Muscat two weeks ago and even though they lost to Dubai Hurricanes last week, the 25-22 result could have gone either way.
“The mood is good, the guys are excited about going to Bahrain. Except for two starting line-up players (visa issues), we’re sending a full squad over,” said Amblers director of rugby, Rocco de Bruyn.
“We feel our strongest side in many weeks,” added chairman Sean Emmett.
“Most of our players are available and healthy for Bahrain.”
The modd is similarly serene in Bahrain, who put two disappointing defeats behind them with a 50-10 win against Muscat last time out.
“The win against Muscat has got us back on track but we know that we have to put in a performance against Al Ain,” said injured skipper Adam Wallace.
“We assume they’ll be traveling strong and we know they can score tries. We believe we have one of the best defences in the league and with our structure really starting to take shape we are confident going into the fixture that we can get what we need.”