IN PICTURES: England stars lead rugby clinic in Dubai

Sport360 staff 31/03/2017

More than 50 Dubai Hurricanes’ kids were put through their paces by England trio Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes and Kyle Sinckler on Friday morning.

The England players were in Dubai following the 13-9 loss to Ireland on March 18 which denied them a second-successive Grand Slam in the Six Nations and history.

Expected British & Irish Lion Lawes was happy to help, leading the session at Lapita Hotel.

“Development of rugby in countries like this is very important, and also in England,” the 28-year-old lock said.

“It is really good to train with the kids and I like to get more involved.”

And our photographer Chris Whiteoak was on hand to capture the morning session that saw the England stars putting the UAE youngsters through their paces.

The ‘Daycation Brunch’ at Lapita Hotel provides the ultimate day out for the family. Prices start from Dh195 with soft beverages. Dh295 for house beverages and Dh95 for children under 12. Contact 04 810 9999 for more information

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Quins face their toughest test of the year against Doha

Matt Jones 16/02/2017
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Testing their might: Abu Dhabi’s Emosi Ratuvecanaua plows through the Dubai Exiles.

Mike McFarlane’s men have been head and shoulders above the opposition thus far this term, going nine games unbeaten and recording eight wins.

The only blot on their record is a draw, which came against second-placed Doha in Abu Dhabi in October.

That 23-23 stalemate will be on the minds of both teams’ players and coaches this weekend, with McFarlane’s league leading scorers heading to a ground known as the ‘Fortress’ to face Alex Natera’s men, who boast the best defence in the West Asia Premiership.

“It’s a ding dong battle ahead no doubt with both teams in good form,” said McFarlane.

“We had a fantastic match against the Doha lads at home earlier in the season and hope to bring a near to complete performance as possible this time round at their place.”

Travelling away in Gulf rugby is a notoriously difficult task, but Quins have already come through a tough test out west, having come from behind 15-0 to beat Bahrain 17-15 in December.

“As ever the joy of travelling away has brought it’s passport and visa problems regardless of the hours put into it,” added McFarlane.

“The boys have put together some excellent skill and contact sessions as they continue to fight for their spots within the two teams.”

Doha have won their last four games on the trot, which has included emerging from some big tests unscathed, including beating Jebel Ali Dragons 25-22 last week at The Sevens. And Natera feels defence is where the game will be won and lost. “There are some big preparations being put in for this game,” he said.

“We have picked up a few injuries this week but we are still looking strong. We learnt a lot from our draw against Quins last time round but we are also very aware that that wasn’t their best game against us.

“We need to work very hard on our defence and if we can do that we’ll come a long way to being very competitive in this match.

“We know other teams are becoming aware of our strike power out wide and we can see what they are trying to do to counter this threat.”

He added: “We’ve been working hard on making threats all around the park and, weather permitting, hopefully we can show this on Friday.

“However, defensive organisation and work rate will go all long way in deciding the result for us.”

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Paul's side bag bonus points in defeat

Matt Jones 11/02/2017
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Jebel Ali Dragons suffered a second successive three-point defeat which sets up a potentially critical clash in terms of the West Asia Premiership picture with Dubai Exiles next week.

Two games ago things looked bleak for defending West Asia and UAE champions Exiles. Back-to-back wins though, coupled with a 22-19 loss to Bahrain two weeks ago and a 25-22 defeat at the hands of Doha last night, leaves Henry Paul’s men playing catch up, although they do have two games in hand.

Crucial for Paul’s players to take out of this titanic tussle was two bonus points, one for outscoring the visitors on the try count, the other for finishing within seven points, thanks to former Al Ain Amblers man Sakiusa Naisau’s late score.

It was an energy-sapping encounter that neither team deserved to lose. The hosts went behind to an early Doha score but roared back and dominated the opening 40 minutes, replying with three tries in a thrilling display of attacking, running rugby.

When the inevitable Doha resurgence came after the break though, Dragons just couldn’t hang on, the result leaving them four points adrift of Exiles, with the two teams clashing at The Sevens next week.

“We were ecstatic going into half time and the boys were up for it,” said all-action Dragons flanker Matt Henry.

“The last try was how we want to be playing, but we came into the second half and I think we tried pushing things too much, getting a bit over confident.

“We’re just not putting the finishing touches on things. We’ve worked really hard on our pattern the last few weeks but we’re just not putting those final passes together. We’re doing the right things, it’s just not coming together how we want.”

“It was a live by the sword die by the sword match for us today, we let ourselves get a bit ragged and got picked off,” added UAE flanker Niall Statham, playing his first match of the season after tearing ankle ligaments on international duty in May.

Doha scrum-half Luke Ward said his side showed character after a disappointing first half performance.

He said: “The boys stepped up. We were slow the first 15-20 minutes but we grew into it and the character’s there which is fantastic. We got we need going into the business end of the season.”

It was Ward’s ingenuity that sparked a brilliant spectacle into life after seven minutes. He chipped behind the Dragons defence with Ryno Fourie and Imad Reyal caught out of position and livewire winger Pita Tuilagi won the race to touch down.

Dragons roared right back and even though they were initially denied as Jonathan Hamilton had a try ruled out for double movement when he dived prematurely before the line, the Number 8 wasn’t to be denied, dragging three men with him to the line in the 29th minute.

Three minutes later they were ahead following winger Sammy Ewing’s electric break. The ball was recycled and spun across the pitch, where Reyal put centre Scott Hayes in at the corner.

Brook Tremayne levelled the scores with a penalty but the hosts regained the lead on the stroke of half time with a quite brilliant try.

New Zealander Henry gathered a clearance kick on halfway before sending Nasau searing through the Doha defence. It was spun wide yet again and South African winger Fourie found a gap to charge over.

The visitors were much better after the interval and, having been knocking on the door for 20 minutes, took back the lead on the hour with the try of the game from Tuilagi.

Nothing looked on when he went on a mazy run off his left wing, but he somehow evaded two Dragons tacklers as he scorched in under the posts from the right, with Tremayne’s conversion seeing Doha lead 20-17.

Fellow Fijian Iliesa Rakabu then sped in on the overlap to give Doha a crucial two-score lead, and even though Nasau rescued a second bonus point for Dragons in the final minute, victory evaded them.

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