Perelini pleased with UAE Under-19 trial match

Matt Jones 8/10/2016
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The UAE will be playing in Division I of the tournament alongside hosts the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea from December 14-17.

Almost 60 budding youngsters took part in a 60-minute trial match at The Sevens in Dubai yesterday evening with UAE Rugby performance manager Perelini and coaches Zayn Gardner and Josh Ives casting their eye over the up and coming talent on display.

The red team beat the green team 35-19 in an entertaining encounter.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins youngster Oakeley Mellish caught the eye with his goal-kicking and link-up play from full-back, while Al Ain Amblers scrum-half Shaquille De Klerk showed lightning pace to finish off a lovely handling move with a try.

Lock Toby Hodges, hooker Hendre Venter and flanker Jessie Te Wharau also shone and Perelini admitted he and his coaching team have plenty to work with.

“The guys flowed quite nicely considering they don’t play together,” he said. “They came here and got together within an hour and played 60 minutes and it was good. I thought there were some good, classy players out there, some skill. I saw a lot to encourage me.”

The players have gathered from clubs and schools across the UAE and will hope to have done enough to convince Perelini of their talent.

The second and final trial – this time an 80-minute match – will be held at the same venue next Saturday.

Perelini will then likely choose a 24-man squad to take to Manila on December 12.

“There’s some nice clay to mould,” added Perelini.

“We’ve got plenty to work with, there’s a lot of good kids to work with which is going to be fun for us, and we’re going to make it fun for them.

“I’m not worried about their structures because that’s something we put in. All I look for is there application and attitude, where their rugby brain is and their work rate around the field, so I thought it was good for the coaches.”
Perelini described it as an honour to be invited to the tournament, but said he will be going there with only one aim.

“We’re going there for one thing and that’s to win it,” he said.

“We’ve never been in Division I so to be invited is quite an honour, and suggests they’re taking us seriously. We’re looking forward to participating and actually looking forward to going there and competing. The Philippines, Singapore and Korea will be very good competition.

“We’ve got some time to work with these talented individuals now. After next Saturday we’ll look to select the team a few days after and spend the next couple of months building into a team.”

Perelini’s men are scheduled to play Singapore on December 14 and will meet the winner of the Philippines v Korea if they manage to get through their semi-final.

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McFarlane proud to see Quins stay perfect

Matt Jones 8/10/2016
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Answering back: Luke Stevenson.

Mike McFarlane said Abu Dhabi Harlequins dispelled any suggestions they would “choke” at capital city rivals Saracens with a hard-fought 20-13 win in the ‘Capital Cup’ on Thursday to maintain their perfect start to the season.

Sarries head coach Winston Cowie had poked the bear before the game by dangling Sarries’ 25-10 win at Al Ghazal in the West Asia Championship above their Zayed Sports City rivals – singling out fly-half Luke Stevenson – but he and Quins answered emphatically.

“We certainly showed that any perceived ‘choking’ at Al Ghazal has been put behind us with everyone showing the outstanding culture we have as a squad and a club,” said McFarlane. “It was fantastic to see Stevenson continue his fine form with a man-of-the-match performance.

“It was a tenacious game but we didn’t expect anything else. Whilst we might not have played at full tilt, we got the job done and we are happy with the result.”

Counterpart Cowie described the encounter as a “belter” and saw plenty of promise in his own team – who had so far seen a 45-3 win against Al Ain Amblers wiped out and a depleted side trounced 37-7 in Doha last week.

“Playing arguably the form side of the competition in what was effectively our second game together we are not far off. There’s lots to be positive about.” said the New Zealander. “The group are hurting but the eye is firmly on Jebel Ali Dragons next week.

“We’ll have the head down working hard. We’ve got a great bunch of guys who are so keen to do well. The start hasn’t been ideal but we are all enjoying it. A huge game at Jebel Ali next week to make a statement and get on the ladder. Onwards.”

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Jebel Ali Dragons roar into life against Dubai Hurricanes

Matt Jones 8/10/2016
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Nice and Semple: Fly-half James Semple controlled proceedings as Jebel Ali Dragons got their first win of the season in emphatic style against Dubai Hurricanes.

Jebel Ali Dragons belatedly breathed a bit of fire into their season as they torched Dubai Hurricanes with a supreme seven-try showing.

After an opening day 51-10 thrashing at Bahrain and their fixture last week against Al Ain Amblers being reduced to a friendly, this was the first real glimpse of Dragons – and it was impressive.

Henry Paul could be pleased with his side’s emphatic win, with New Zealand fly-half James Semple, bullocking wing Shaun McCarthy and UAE full-back Imad Reyal all impressing and ex-Al Ain centre Sakiusa Naisau untouchable.

“We had to pick it up from Bahrain and forget all the mistakes we made there,” said the Fijian. “Today it was a good game against a team who came out hard against us. We stuck to our game plan and worked hard on defence, although we still need to improve.”

Naisau and McCarthy both helped themselves to two tries although Canes never let up and can take solace in the fact that they deservedly earned themselves a try-scoring bonus point right at the death.

“That’s a point on the league table which, once we turn it round, could prove crucial, and shows we still have some fire in us,” said head coach James Ham. “We can make excuses but it simply isn’t good enough. Something’s got to click, unfortunately it’s just not there yet.”

Dragons opened the scoring after just six minutes – Naisau ploughing through the Canes defence before offloading to No. 8 Lawrence Reynolds who barged over.

Canes fly-half Andy Powell’s brilliant miss pass sent Daryl Johnson over as Canes responded, but Dragons took a grip of the game with two tries before the interval through McCarthy and Naisau.

Back came Canes early in the second half through prop Mike Jasko but Dragons always had a response and Naisau and Chris Masson tries put the game out of reach.

Nick Beaumont crashed over to keep Canes in contention for a bonus point and the hosts didn’t help themselves with no fewer than four players sin-binned.

Then came the try of the match. Replacement scrum-half Justin James fielded a kick and made inroads into Canes territory. He spread the play wide to former Abu Dhabi Saracens hooker Gio Fourie who offloaded beautifully to the supporting McCarthy who finished in the corner.

Reyal then got on the board and Semple’s conversion took Dragons over the half century mark before Luke Kettlewell and Canes had the final say.

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