They may have breezed to a gargantuan win last week but Dubai Exiles director of rugby Jacques Benade is sure it will take a “massive effort” to make it back-to-back victories against Bahrain on Friday.
Exiles crushed Muscat 146-5 at The Sevens in their opening West Asia Championship fixture. But Bahrain made headlines of their own by claiming a shock win at reigning West Asia champions Abu Dhabi Saracens by 13-12.
Benade admitted if his team get something out of the fixture, he will be delighted.
“It’s a very difficult task to go there and get a result,” said the South African. “We will have to defend well and take any opportunities we get. It will take a massive effort.”
Given they finished rock bottom of the Gulf Top Six last season with just one win, Benade revealed Bahrain’s win at Al Ghazal surprised him.
“It was a huge surprise. They were whipping boys last year and now they have beaten the champions, they must have really stepped up and worked hard over Christmas,” he said. “Travelling in the Gulf is always hard, so for them to have gone there and won is massive. It just shows that anyone can beat anyone on their day in this league. It’s good to see and it’s good for the competition.”
Benade has a few injury concerns. Both first-choice second rowers Rinus Bothma and Ratu Leavanasiga out injured, as well as centre Clint Berkenshaw, Michael Stubbs and Johnny Forbes.
Despite this, he insisted absences will be no excuse.
“We’ll have issues with some of our South Africans travelling too but we can’t hide behind that, we will put our best team out there and expect them to perform,” said Benade. “In the West Asia Championship you need to win all your home games and get a few results away and then we’ll be there or thereabouts. If we get something out of this weekend, we’ll be delighted.”
Bahrain team manager Ian Davies stated everyone associated with the club was elated with last week’s triumph at Sarries, but he said they are determined to ensure that result is not the sole highlight of their campaign.
“The boys celebrated on Friday but on Saturday the talk was of this not being a flash in the pan,” said Davies. “It was a win against last season’s champions, OK, but it was just the first game of the season and we only just won. “It’s another massive game this weekend and the guys have got back and it’s been down to business.”
New South African second row Deon Grierson could feature along with fellow new signing Kern Wales, although Bahrain are likely to remain largely unchanged. Davies is also expecting a 500-strong crowd to roar on the hosts.
Know more about Sport360 Application