Bridesmaids Jebel Ali Dragons 2nds and Al Ain Amblers aim to end UAE Conference season with silverware

Matt Jones - Editor 09:46 12/04/2018
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Kent Watene is mobbed by teammates as his sudden death try saw Abu Dhabi Harlequins defeat Al Ain Amblers in last season's UAE Conference Top 6 final.

A final is a final, though both Jebel Ali Dragons and Al Ain Amblers would understandably prefer to be contesting the UAE Conference title than the consolatory Bottom 4 crown on Friday.

Especially as they both appeared in the last two versions of the Top 6 final – with agonising defeat suffered by each.

Amblers lost a heartbreaker last year, going down 31-26 in extra-time to Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2nds, Kent Watene their hero after they had scored an equalising try right at the death following Epeli Davetawalu’s red card.

Similar woe befell Dragons 2nds two years earlier as they led for almost the entire game against Sharjah Wanderers before a try beyond 80 minutes saw them lose 27-26.

Dragons finished top of the bottom half of the pile in the UAE Conference, posting 39 points to earn a final shot, with Amblers eight points behind.

And now that they’re here, Dragons are determined to finish the job and win some silverware.

“We’ve been on a good run the past few weeks, all the boys are looking forward to the final and playing against a quality outfit in Al Ain, who were only narrowly beaten last year in the Top 6 final,” said Dragons skipper Jamie Lynch.

“It’s a one-off game with everything to play for. We’re certainly not looking at ourselves as favorites, Al Ain have a strong reputation for turning it on this time of the year so we will need to be at our best for the full 80 minutes.”

As he has done many times before, Amblers director of rugby Rocco De Bruyn is stepping in to take charge of the side from the Garden City for the final, with head coach Sean Emmett away in Australia.

A Dragons player looks on as Sharjah Wanderers celebrate UAE Conference Top 6 final glory two years ago.

A Dragons player looks on as Sharjah Wanderers celebrate UAE Conference Top 6 final glory two years ago.

He admits it’s been a bit of a slog this year, having appeared in the glamour Conference showpiece 12 months ago. But he is determined to finish on a high.

“It’s been a hard season with lots of new players and untimely injuries, especially to key positions,” said the South African.

“It was a slow start trying to find the correct combinations and game plan according to our strengths.

“We’re looking forward to Friday’s final, hoping that we will play against a legitimate second team from Dragons. If so, I think we will have a hard, yet entertaining, game.

“Our head coach, Sean Emmett, is currently in Australia so I had to step in (again) for the finals.

“Luckily the men have a good coaching team in Jakes Terblanche , Leon Bell and George Taunga that are a great help.

“Rugby is a funny game and there are no guarantees of an easy game or win, as we have seen lately in Super Rugby and the Six Nations, but I have faith in the boys and believe that we can be victorious on Friday.”

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