Louie Tonkin plays down Bahrain's top of the table battle with Abu Dhabi Harlequins

Matt Jones - Editor 19:02 29/10/2018
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Louie Tonkin's Bahrain side have started the season brightly.

Louie Tonkin leads his Bahrain side into an early top of the table West Asia Premiership battle with Abu Dhabi Harlequins this weekend – but the Welshman insists it’s far too early to be talking about title deciders.

Bahrain and Quins are the form sides in early part of the 2018/19 campaign, with both sides boasting four wins from five games. Quins sit atop the standings on 20 points – just one point ahead of Tonkin’s charges by virtue of having earned one more bonus point.

Mike McFarlane’s side have turned in four straight wins following an opening day 24-14 defeat to Friday’s opponents in Abu Dhabi. Bahrain, meanwhile, were downed 31-20 at The Sevens by Dubai Exiles at the beginning of October, but then beat champions Jebel Ali Dragons before a resounding 45-15 trouncing of Dubai Hurricanes last weekend.

Now they welcome Quins to Saar, although Tonkin is downplaying the significance of the game.

“People say it’s a top-of-the-table clash, but we’re not paying attention to that right now, it’s only round six out of 15 so every game is equally important, especially home games, so we’ll hope for a big game and improve on the Hurricanes performance,” he said.

“It’s a step in the right direction (last week’s win) but we know we need to be better again against Quins this weekend.

“We’ve got them at home, it’s a big, big game. They’ve got some form and picked up a big win against Exiles so that’s going to be a massive challenge.”

Quins have notched 30 points or more in each of their last four games since losing to Bahrain on opening night – beating Dragons 46-22, Dubai Eagles 50-21, Canes 31-21 and Exiles a week ago 44-20 to make a mockery of pre-season suggestions they could struggle.

Games come thick and fast this season and each side will face their opponents three times. Bahrain will play each opponent away twice, so the onus is on them to pick up points at home.

“It’s been a good few weeks for us,” added Tonkin.

“We were gutted to pick up that loss against Exiles. We played poorly and just didn’t turn up. Exiles did and picked up the win.

“That was really disappointing. We went to Dragons and ground out a win, although we still played pretty poorly or below our potential we think we have.

“We had a few weeks off and got a few boys back. That first block of games was difficult – particularly with the Champions League beforehand. It meant we had six games in seven weeks and that’s the most we’ve ever played, and we’re a small squad.

“We got a few boys back against Canes and performed well. We were dominant up front and used that to our advantage. We played well and scored some very good tries.”

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