Dragons competing with Exiles for top four spot

Matt Jones - Editor 21:45 08/02/2017
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Henry Paul’s side have been in decent form this season but their chances of a spot in the end-of-season West Asia Premiership and UAE Premiership playoffs were dealt a blow last month as they were narrowly defeated 22-19 by Bahrain.

That, coupled with Dubai Exiles’ rousing 33-32 triumph in Bahrain two weeks ago, means Dragons have now slipped out of the top four, which carries with it a playoff place.

The good news for Dragons is they have two games in hand on three of the four teams above them, and one in hand on weekend opponents Doha.

If they can use their situation to their advantage, Paul’s side will be in with a decent shout of qualifying for the WAP playoffs, while the top two UAE sides in the final standings will also contest the UAE Premiership final later in the year.

Although they welcome a team who have lost just twice all season, skipper Ross Samson insists Dragons can’t wait for the game.

“We were beating Doha until 10 minutes to go at their place so I feel like we owe it to ourselves to put in a big performance and play for the full 80,” said scrum-half Samson of Dragons’ 23-16 defeat in Qatar in October.

“We have had a few weeks off so everyone is fresh and ready to get ripped in to it.”

Dragons are buoyed by the return of powerhouse South African hooker Gio Fourie.

Doha coach Alex Natera revealed there have been some key departures from The Fortress, but is keen for a win that will keep the pressure on league leaders Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

“We are traveling with a strong team and we are looking forward to this fixture,” said Natera.

“It should be an entertaining one with two teams who like to use the ball. Dragons play a similar game to us. They like to exploit width and they do this well. We think their back three is one of the best in the league and we have been preparing to contain them as much as possible.

“We’ve had some recent suspensions, injuries and key player movements overseas which will present a test in some positions but we feel the boys that are coming in, and have been there or thereabouts in the squad, can actually provide something different to our game.

“It should be a cracking game with both of us playing for the top four positions.”

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