Dubai Rugby Sevens: Dubai Hurricanes secure back-to-back Gulf Men's League titles

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Mike Wernham.

Twelve months ago Dubai Hurricanes came out of nowhere to lift their first Gulf Men’s League title in over a decade, and now Mike Wernham’s men have cemented their greatness with a second consecutive victory at the Dubai Rugby Sevens.

Saki Naisau, Toby Oakley, Blair Cochrane and Ed Lewis crossed the line to steer ‘Canes to a 26-10 triumph over Bahrain, with captain Boris Finck orchestrating proceedings superbly from out-half.

Heading into the tournament with a target on their backs, Wernham knew how difficult it would be to secure back-to-back titles. But extra sessions, meetings and a close competition for squad places was key to their success this weekend.

In addition to that was losing to Bahrain in the group stages on Friday and having to dig in mentally against the same opposition in Saturday’s decider.

“From our boys, what they had to do to pull themselves through, from losing to the same opposition yesterday to producing a performance of that calibre today. It’s not easy and it’s the first time we’ve done it in our history,” said Wernham.

“It’s a full testament to the players and the effort they’ve put in. From extra sessions to meetings to working full-time jobs, everyone has stuck to the cause. They have been professional almost from start to finish.

“Fair credit to Bahrain. Even though they went a few scores down in the final, they didn’t give in and kept chipping away.”

Competition for places has been central to Hurricanes’ elevating their performances to the next level this tournament, with superb victories over Dubai Exiles, Dubai Tigers and Jebel Ali Dragons en route to beating Bahrain in the final.

As each game passed, the champions seemed to find an answer to whatever the opposition threw their way.

“We narrowed our squad from 22 to 16, that was so difficult to do as everyone was playing so well. In comparison to last year, we had 16 players who could have been in this squad this time round. The competition for places has been phenomenal,” said Wernham.

“We’ve all got responsibilities in different facets of the game. We played some really good rugby and the ball bounced nicely for us in the final. Our width options were superb. We are a versatile team that can play in plenty of different ways and we showed that today.”

Skipper Finck was one of the star players on a historic day, with his deft handling, intelligence and cleverly weighed kicks pivotal to their success.

He said: “I did feel the pressure (this weekend) because I knew all teams would be coming after us, especially with us being defending champions. The loss to Bahrain in the group stages gave us a boost because we knew we needed to step up. It’s good we got the result.

“We said before the game to empty the tank, it’s the last game of the tournament so to put it all in. Thankfully it fell in our favour”

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