Dubai Exiles made it three straight UAE Premiership wins with an eye-catching 6-5 victory at the home of West Asia champions Abu Dhabi Saracens.
It might not have been a pretty spectacle but it was the first defeat inflicted on Sarries at Al Ghazal in more than a year and left resurgent Exiles level with Abu Dhabi Harlequins at the top of the table as the only two sides with perfect records.
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In an error-strewn game, two Durandt Gerber penalties trumped an unconverted try from Sarries’ skipper Jaen Botes.
The South African capitalised on an early yellow card for Exiles’ Matt Mills by crashing over but was then shown yellow himself minutes later. Two Gerber penalties gave the visitors the lead but he and Sarries’ full-back Rohan Vorster both missed simple shots at goal thereafter.
In a second-half stalemate where the slippery ball prevented either team from taking a grip on proceedings, Exiles full-back Ryan Rapello’s excellent try-saving tackle on Dan Woolmer near the end prevented the hosts from sneaking a late win in the only chance of note.
Exiles head coach Jacques Benade hailed his side’s backbone.
“It was a massive win, an ugly win,” he said. “Our boys showed massive character in defence and I’m very proud of how they stepped up tonight.
“We’ll go away, maybe saying we were lucky to win it, but to come here and walk away 6-5, we’re delighted. It’s a massive step in the right direction and I have to take my hat off to the boys”
Sarries joint head coach Stephen Hamilton added: “We feel disappointed and can only hold ourselves accountable for a lack of performance that we want to be delivering.
“Small margins, but when the margins are 20 errors they’re not so small. It’s poor and disappointing from us. Lots to work on.”
In the night’s other game, Quins also remained perfect with a 57-0 crushing of Al Ain Amblers. Matt Smith, Ben Bolger, Tu Seymour, Max Trimble, William Umu, Marcos Flores, Barry Dwyer and Attie Stander all crossed, with Luke Stevenson kicking 17 points.
Dubai Hurricanes held on to claim a 28-24 victory against Jebel Ali Dragons on Thursday night.
James Square and Ben Blaimare each bagged two tries for Dragons, Square adding two conversions, but John Buxman, Ross O’Loughlin and Will Whitehouse tries, plus Paul Beard’s boot, condemned them to a third straight defeat.
Mohammed Shaker says the UAE Shaheen team have high expectations of winning the inaugural UAE Rugby Dubai Airports 7’s tournament in Dubai on Friday.
Shaheen assistant manager Shaker, also a UAE Rugby Federation board member, says the tournament, in which the Shaheen will face Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar, will be very special and he expects the hosts to be competitive.
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“It is the inaugural event but we hope it will become an annual event,” said Shaker. “It will be a good thing for all Arab countries and I hope we will have more teams in the future. It will give the Shaheen boys more exposure and perhaps it will become a pathway to the national team.”
Games get underway at 7he Sevens at 09:00, the Shaheen opening up against Qatar, with Lebanon next up and finally Saudi Arabia, before all teams will play a semi-final, final and third place play-off.
“This tournament will be very special, with teams coming from around the Gulf,” said Shaker.
“It will be an opportunity for the new boys who haven’t played before. It will be useful and is the only way for them to develop.”
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The tournament will be a debut for Qatar, while Shaker believes Lebanon will be the favourites.
“Lebanon are perhaps the strongest team but we hope to win and expect to compete,” said Shaker.
Also taking place on Friday is the first round of the West Asia Women’s 7’s Series, which will be hosted by Abu Dhabi Harlequins at Zayed Sports City.
The tournament will feature 13 teams competing in three divisions, including Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Bats and Jesters, Dubai Sharks 1sts, 2nds and 3rds, Heartbeat Tigers, Dubai Hurricanes, Al Ain Amblers 1sts and 2nds, Sharjah Wanderers, as well as Doha Oryx and Trojans.
Canes are the reigning league champions but Quins club captain Eileen Siegel says the home team’s three teams are eying success.
“We have three teams and we want to play our best rugby,” said Siegel. “We’re very proud to host the tournament opener.”
The organisers of the long-awaited Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens have announced the 16 teams in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the 12 teams in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series which will be taking place on 3-5 December at The Sevens Stadium.
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The Dubai event is the first leg of the extended ten-leg HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with Cape Town, Sydney, Singapore, Vancouver and Paris as new additions to the circuit and Wellington, Hong Kong and Las Vegas continuing on from the previous four-year Series, with the final round being played in London on 21-22 May 2016.
With the event achieving year-on-year record attendances, this year is set to be the biggest action-packed rugby festival Dubai has ever seen. Over 100,000 fans and 4,000 players, including some of the world’s best expected to compete as excitement for the Rio Olympic Games builds. An array of top-of-the-range international fifteens players will participate in this year’s tournament in a bid to realise their Olympic dream.
In addition, over 250 teams will be taking part in the Invitation Tournament attracting a number of international men and women players as well as under 19s, Emiratis, social and veteran teams. Brand new to this year’s Invitation Tournament is the launch of the Netball Tournament, with over 32 teams confirmed from the Gulf region battling it out on the Netball courts will make this the biggest Invitation Tournament to date.
As part of the celebration, a range of new and exciting concepts will be on offer at the festival to ensure the greatest three-day festival to date. Spectators are encouraged to come in fancy dress and enjoy all the entertainment on offer in the Rugby Village. With provisions made for families such as the dedicated dnata family stand, child care services and activities, the Rugby Sevens is a fantastic family day out.
Tickets for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2015 can be purchased online at www.dubairugby7s.com or at selected Costa, MMI, Go Sport and dnata outlets, Bidi Bondi, The Sevens Stadium and Park n Shop.
Visitors to the event also have the option of reserving their seats. Reserved seating, premium seating and corporate hospitality packages are available through the official website.