Canes have lost both games under Wernham, but pushed runaway West Asia Premiership leaders Abu Dhabi Harlequins all the way in his first game in charge, a 24-19 defeat at Zayed Sports City a little under a month ago.
They followed that with a spirited 20-10 defeat in Bahrain and now they host fierce Dubai rivals Exiles at The Sevens tomorrow looking for just a third win of the season and to complete the double against the reigning West Asia and UAE champions.
“We’ve had two good results that have shown progress but we need to push on now for a win against one of our biggest rivals,” said Wernham.
“Having had two weeks off we’ve had some really good training sessions, lads wanting to improve constantly and itching to get back playing.
“We know Exiles are in good form after getting a result in Bahrain so we’re expecting them to be full of confidence and, following the result against them earlier in the season, we’re expecting them to come out all guns blazing. We have a big challenge ahead.”
Canes skipper Dave Knight is predicting another close game following October’s last-gasp 19-17 win when the two sides clash at The Sevens tonight (Thursday).
“Things have been building since the restart in January. We felt we probably should have got a result against Quins and Bahrain so the boys will be fired up,” said the UAE international.
“It’s small margins in this league but we are getting closer. We’re definitely moving in the right direction. Playing your neighbors under Thursday night lights adds something special to the fixture.
“We sneaked the win against them earlier in season but both teams were quite different back then. I’m sure it will be another close game.”
Exiles will be boosted by their 33-32 triumph in Bahrain a few weeks ago which reignited their push for the post-season. But, with Jebel Ali Dragons just a point behind in fifth place and with two games in hand, Jacques Benade knows his team can’t stop there.
“It’s another big week if we want to qualify for the playoffs,” said the South African.
“It was a great win for us in Bahrain but we know that Canes are playing great rugby and signed some good players over the Christmas period. It is always a tough game between the two of us and I do believe we will need to step it up another level to get a good result.”
Despite their woeful form this season, Exiles have been ravaged by injuries, with winger Ed James the latest casualty following a sickening concussion in Bahrain.
“It is really our pack who secured our win against Bahrain and it will have to come from our forwards again this weekend,” added Benade.
“Our set-piece was excellent against Bahrain and the work rate off the ball was outstanding. We will need that this weekend again. We got bullied off the ball in our previous fixture against Canes so hopefully we will be up for this game.”
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