Regardless of the result when they take on Dubai Hurricanes in the West Asia Trophy final on Friday, Josh Ives insists Dubai Eagles will be flying high at the final whistle.
It’s been a testing debut campaign for Eagles, established just months before the 2017/18 campaign got underway. Andrew O’Driscoll’s men have won just two games all season – both against Abu Dhabi Saracens.
The second of those was a commanding 53-7 triumph in the Trophy semi-final a week ago, setting up a chance to have another tussle with Hurricanes and an upportunity to end the season on a high.
Games between the pair have been competitive this season, with Canes triumphing 28-12 in October and 36-23 in the two West Asia Premiership encounters.
And Ives insists all the pressure is on the reigning Trophy champions.
“This was always our target this season, to be in this situation in this game,” said the Eagles scrum-half.
“As far as the campaign goes I’m hugely proud of the lads and what they’ve achieved. Regardless of the result I’ll be sleeping happy.
“The game will be tight, if we can get a handle on that scrum and stop those big lads up front just a little I believe we have patterns and individuals that can nick the game.
“We have nothing to lose this game, we’ll be chucking absolutely everything at them. All the pressure is on them which is quite nice. Expect to see a lot of happy Eagles at the final whistle, regardless of the scoresheet.”
For Canes, it is a place captain Dave Knight readily admits they do not want to be in. Although they are defending champions, it is the West Asia Cup and Premiership he wants to be competing for.
He and his teammates have seen the Premiership fiercely contested this season between Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Jebel Ali Dragons, Dubai Exiles and Bahrain, and he has been looking on with envy.
“Unfortunately, it’s not the trophy we wanted to be in but now we are in it we want to retain it,” said the UAE international.
“It’s a bit of a nonsense trophy considering the league standings are already done but we’ve got to take it for what it is, another game and the chance to put some gloss on an otherwise underwhelming season.”
With games having been close between the sides this term and the fact Eagles will be buoyed by the chance to end a fledgling campaign with silverware, Knight knows Canes should win, but is warning against complacency.
“They’ll throw absolutely everything at us as winning would be a massively successful season for them,” he added.
“Our lads have to not be complacent and match their desire from the off. If we do that I think we’ll be alright and have too much for them to handle. If we don’t then it will be a dog fight for 80 minutes.”
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