Dubai Exiles made it three straight UAE Premiership wins with an eye-catching 6-5 victory at the home of West Asia champions Abu Dhabi Saracens.
It might not have been a pretty spectacle but it was the first defeat inflicted on Sarries at Al Ghazal in more than a year and left resurgent Exiles level with Abu Dhabi Harlequins at the top of the table as the only two sides with perfect records.
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In an error-strewn game, two Durandt Gerber penalties trumped an unconverted try from Sarries’ skipper Jaen Botes.
The South African capitalised on an early yellow card for Exiles’ Matt Mills by crashing over but was then shown yellow himself minutes later. Two Gerber penalties gave the visitors the lead but he and Sarries’ full-back Rohan Vorster both missed simple shots at goal thereafter.
In a second-half stalemate where the slippery ball prevented either team from taking a grip on proceedings, Exiles full-back Ryan Rapello’s excellent try-saving tackle on Dan Woolmer near the end prevented the hosts from sneaking a late win in the only chance of note.
Exiles head coach Jacques Benade hailed his side’s backbone.
“It was a massive win, an ugly win,” he said. “Our boys showed massive character in defence and I’m very proud of how they stepped up tonight.
“We’ll go away, maybe saying we were lucky to win it, but to come here and walk away 6-5, we’re delighted. It’s a massive step in the right direction and I have to take my hat off to the boys”
Sarries joint head coach Stephen Hamilton added: “We feel disappointed and can only hold ourselves accountable for a lack of performance that we want to be delivering.
“Small margins, but when the margins are 20 errors they’re not so small. It’s poor and disappointing from us. Lots to work on.”
In the night’s other game, Quins also remained perfect with a 57-0 crushing of Al Ain Amblers. Matt Smith, Ben Bolger, Tu Seymour, Max Trimble, William Umu, Marcos Flores, Barry Dwyer and Attie Stander all crossed, with Luke Stevenson kicking 17 points.
Dubai Hurricanes held on to claim a 28-24 victory against Jebel Ali Dragons on Thursday night.
James Square and Ben Blaimare each bagged two tries for Dragons, Square adding two conversions, but John Buxman, Ross O’Loughlin and Will Whitehouse tries, plus Paul Beard’s boot, condemned them to a third straight defeat.
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