Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nds and Dubai Hurricanes 2nds maintained their perfect records to remain joint top of the UAE Conference after four games on Friday night.
Both teams enjoyed comprehensive victories to remain five points clear of Sharjah Wanderers in third-place – the only other team in the division who are also yet to taste defeat this season.
Quins beat Dubai Exiles 2nds 29-6 at Zayed Sports City as Canes triumphed across Abu Dhabi at Al Ghazal, claiming a thrilling 39-19 win against the winless Abu Dhabi Saracens 2nds.
Sharjah, who have played a game less than the leading two, were rampant in their 49-3 routing of Arabian Knights, who are also winless after their three games.
In the night’s other two games, Jebel Ali Dragons 2nds got their first win of the season in fine style as they hammered Al Ain Amblers 2nds 57-10 at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence.
Dubai Wasps continued their good progress under new head coach Mike Pugsley, the Welshman steering his side to a tense 23-17 win against Heartbeat Tigers to lift them into fifth place.
In the Community League, meanwhile, Jebel Ali Dragons 3rds retained their grip on top spot as they beat Al Ain Amblers 3rds 41-7, which takes them onto 152 points from three games.
They hold a five-point advantage after three matches over the second-placed Arabian Knights 2nds.
A little history was made when Dubai Hurricanes 3rds fielded a team for the first time and they would have been delighted with the 43-7 win against the UAE Shaheen, who are still searching for their first win in their first foray into competitive domestic rugby.
The Beaver Nomads are two from two as another unbeaten team this season and they ran in an impressive nine tries in a 47-17 victory over Dubai Sharks 3rds.
Jacques Benade says he has seen enough from his Dubai Exiles side to believe they can challenge Abu Dhabi Harlequins for this season’s UAE Premiership.
Quins had steamrollered their way to three straight wins, scoring 116 points and conceding just 10 prior to Friday’s thrilling encounter with Exiles at Zayed Sports City which saw the home side clinch a last gasp victory thanks to a length-of-the-field try.
The hosts had been second best for large periods of the game against an impressive visiting team, who had also come into the clash defending an unbeaten start to the season.
Having played for 20 minutes with 14 men following Stephen Ferguson’s red card, Benade feels it’s important his side recover from this disappointment.
“I don’t know how we lost that, I really don’t. I’m gutted for the boys,” said the South African.
“I think at the end the 14 men cost us because we had to work so hard with seven men in the pack. We had to deal with a bit of pressure because we know they’re so dangerous in the back line.
“Last week we probably were second best at (Abu Dhabi) Saracens but won and now we deserved to win this game but lost, and that’s how rugby is and what makes it so interesting.”
Benade felt his side made a big statement by coming to the home of the champions and playing so well.
“I’m just so proud of the boys for coming here and the way they played,” he said.
What a cracking game that was. Quins score a last minute try to break Exiles hearts and win 22-18
— Matt Jones (@MattJones360) October 16, 2015
“As a team we worked really hard. Hopefully we will keep getting better and better and the boys definitely put their hands up today. It was a big test for us coming to the home of the champions and we almost had them.
“We need to now get over this and realise we had it almost, we competed against those boys but it’s a big game now again next week.
“We need to chase those boys (Quins) all the way. There are a lot of positives to take from the match but let’s focus on next week.”
Quins’ winger Chris Marshall was also impressed with Exiles but was happy with the mettle his side showed to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2015-16 Premiership campaign.
The UAE sevens international endured a mixed game. He replaced the injured Max Trimble early on and made an instant impact with a try, but he was forced off soon after when he dislocated his shoulder in the process of scoring.
“It’s a dislocated shoulder. Someone just caught me a bit weird and I almost forgot to put the ball down, but three weeks and I should be back. It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Exiles leveled scores through Stephen Ferguson’s try but Saint turned sinner when he was later sent off for knee to head on Marcos Flores
— Matt Jones (@MattJones360) October 16, 2015
Despite an impressive start to the season, the injuries are piling up for Quins head coach Mike McFarlane. Marshall and Trimble added to several other injuries sustained, incluidng Agustin Arias who was injured in the warm-up.
“I think we’ve got about five injuries tonight, with (scrum-half) Sam Bolger ending up playing on the wing, but we did alright in the end,” said Marshall.
“We’ve got nine first choice players injured already so it’s not ideal.”
There was a palpable sense of relief around the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence on Friday night as Jebel Ali Dragons finally got their maiden win of the season against Al Ain Amblers.
Bruce Pendrey’s men did it in style too, scoring six tries as they torched the winless Garden City side 46-15.
There were a couple of standout performers for the hosts, James Eliot-Square having a magnificent night as he scored 25 of his side’s points, while Alex Lee also touched down for two tries.
Eliot-Square’s impressive haul included going over for two tries, notching three penalties and converting three of his side’s tries.
There were also scores for Ben Blamaire and veteran Paul Hart, the latter of whom is hoping the win can finally act as a spark to fire the Dragons into life after what has been a disappointing start to the 2015-16 campaign.
— Jebel Ali Dragons (@JebelAliDragons) October 16, 2015
“We’re feeling great after that win,” said Hart, who is also Dragons’ director of rugby.
“It was a combination of relief and determination to now build and start to fulfill our potential this season.”
It was fourth time lucky for Dragons, who had gone down to a narrow 28-24 loss last week against Dubai Hurricanes.
They had previously lost 14-5 to Dubai Exiles on opening night and 35-7 to Abu Dhabi Harlequins a week later.
The search for a first win back in the top flight of domestic rugby goes on though for Amblers, who have lost four straight and conceded 166 points in the process, scoring just 39.