Season strugglers Hurricanes and Saracens seek salvation

Matt Jones - Editor 19:00 21/03/2017
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It's been a tough slog for Abu Dhabi Saracens and skipper Jaen Botes (r)

Confusion has reigned as the domestic rugby season reaches its climax in the UAE, but Dubai Hurricanes are buoyed by the fact there is still a trophy to play for before the dust settles on 2016/17.

They face Abu Dhabi Saracens at The Sevens tomorrow (Friday) with the winner going through to face Dubai Exiles next week in the West Asia Trophy final.

It hasn’t been an enjoyable season for either Canes, Sarries or Exiles, but Canes head coach Mike Wernham insists his side are determined to end with a flourish.

“We’re going to give it absolutely everything and hopefully we’ll be joining the Exiles in next week’s Trophy final,” said Wernham.

“The motivation is we definitely don’t want the season to end. We want to go out on a high and that’s beating Saracens this weekend and then Exiles next weekend.

“I was at the game last week between them (Saracens) and Dragons. They started really well and we knew we blew a big opportunity against them at their place. We know they’re physical and we have to nullify their eight and nine who work really well.”

Canes have been hit with several absentees as their squad is littered with teachers away for the school holidays, but Wernham insists this won’t prevent his side being competitive.

“Unfortunately having games during the holidays always hits us hard, with so many teachers in the squad,” he added.

“We’re a little bit hampered, although that’s not an excuse and we’re not the only club in this position. Hopefully with planning for next year, games will be kept away from school holidays.”

Such has been the confusion surrounding the climax of the domestic rugby season in the UAE, Canes skipper Dave Knight admitted he was surprised to find out there was still something to play for.

“We were a bit surprised when we found out that we had a game to be honest,” he said.
“Having spoke to the guys at Sarries they were also surprised about the game. Sarries are a good team and if you don’t show them the respect they deserve they will punish you.

“We’ve had two very close games with them this year and both were very physical. Both teams like to use their forwards so I’m sure it will be won and lost there.”

Sarries are also without a number of key players, with prop Craig Nutt revealing as many as 10 first team regulars are unavailable.

Fly-half Matt Hutchings, meanwhile, is just concentrating on taking the chance against Canes to end the season on a high.

“For us it’s about trying to go out and get a good performance after what has been a disappointing season in terms of results,” said the UAE international.

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