History beckons for Abu Dhabi Harlequins as they go in search of quintuple and perfect season

Matt Jones - Editor 22:03 05/04/2017
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Brothers Sam (l) and Ben Bolger (r) hope for a fairytale ending to theirs and Quins' season

Jebel Ali Dragons stand between Abu Dhabi Harlequins and immortality as the capital city club go in search of an unprecedented fifth trophy of an already remarkable season.

If Mike McFarlane’s men can claim the UAE Premiership title at Dubai Sports City tomorrow, they will complete a clean sweep of honours – with no team having previously won a quintuple of trophies in UAE domestic rugby history.

Quins started the search for silverware by lifting the Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League trophy by beating Dubai Exiles and Sri Lanka’s Kandy in pre-season.

They added the Dubai Sevens title in December – claiming that accolade for a third-straight year. The West Asia Premiership crown was earned in February and Quins beat Bahrain last week to be crowned West Asia Cup winners.

Adding a fifth honour would be a hugely impressive feat, given the rise in standards and player ability in the Emirates in recent seasons. With a 3-0 record over Dragons this season, however, flanker Ben Bolger insists Quins will be disappointed to fall at the final hurdle.

“It’s the last one. (A chance to win) five out of five. It will be special occasion for the club. Dragons are a good team so we’ll look forward to it, but I think we’ll be disappointed if we don’t do it,” said Quins’ heartbeat.

“We’ve beaten Dragons three times already this season so if we go down there and don’t come away with the win we’ll only have ourselves to blame.”

The Premiership showdown is the jewel in the crown of the inaugural UAE Rugby Finals Day, with the UAE Conference Top 6 and Bottom 5 and Community League finals all being played on the same day, at the same venue.

Quins have teams in three finals and McFarlane is dreaming of a special day for the whole club, saying: “It’s time for the boys to step up one more time and leave everything on the pitch.”

Quins beat Dragons by a solitary point in their opening bout of the season, a 31-30 epic in the West Asia Premiership in November. It was a rather more straightforward 47-7 triumph in February – a result that confirmed them as Premiership champions.

Their third victory was perhaps the most impressive of the lot, battling back from having a man sent off to triumph 23-14 in the West Asia Cup semi-finals.

Powerhouse hooker Gio Fourie will be key for Dragons

Powerhouse hooker Gio Fourie will be key for Dragons

Despite their seeming inferiority complex when it comes to Quins, coach Henry Paul insists his players are determined to spoil their parade.

“Our boys are revved up and it’s great to get another shot at Quins who deserve a big pat on the back for their successful season,” said the former New Zealand rugby league and England union international.

“It will be a hard fought game I’m sure, there’s a lot riding on it for them going for a clean sweep, and I’m sure we’ll give them our best shot and give a good account of ourselves.”

His enthusiasm is shared by prop and director of rugby, Paul Hart, who feels Dragons are due a win.

“As a team and club we are very excited to compete for a title,” said the UAE international.

“We feel we are not fair off clicking and producing a strong performance. Quins are on fire so it’s another perfect chance to test ourselves and the boys are pumped, even an old boy like me. It’s a final so let’s see what happens.”

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