Canes survive Al Ain Amblers attack in thrilling West Asia C'ship clash

Matt Jones - Editor 10:45 27/02/2016
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It was a thoroughly entertaining spectacle in the Garden City, characterised by ferocious hits and attacking rugby more akin to a sevens game.

The hosts started brightly and went ahead through Saki Nasau’s try, following a loop pass from livewire Niko Volavola, who was a constant menace for Andrew Rouvi’s side. Will Whitehouse replied for James Ham’s men 10 minutes later, finishing off a powerful forward move in which Lindsay Fitzgerald bumping Siri Laladidi to the ground had been the highlight.

That signalled the moment Canes took command and they scored two more tries before the break, hooker Chris Gregory finishing off following a rolling maul, while great work by Fitzgerald from an Al Ain ruck sent James Curran in at the corner on the stroke of half-time.

Canes stormed out of the blocks in the second half and it appeared curtains for Amblers when Fitzgerald rumbled over for a try after 50 minutes to secure bonus point for the visitors.

That seemed to spark the hosts into life though and when Kabil Varawa crossed after Al Ain had gone for a quick tap instead of kicking for touch on halfway, they were just 20-12 adrift.

Volavola’s conversion was the one successful kick at goal from 10 attempts by either side in the entire 80 minutes and the gap was just three when Nasau darted over for his second try.

Gregory gave Canes an eight-point advantage when he crossed for his second from another rolling maul, but Al Ain wouldn’t go away and Volavola was again instrumental as Varawa crossed to close the gap again to three.

Emosi Ratuvanacua went on two slaloming runs late on that would have brought the house down, but Canes weathered the storm.

Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi Harlequins went some way in eradicating the memory of last week’s derby defeat to Saracens by beating Doha  44-25. Leaders Dubai Exiles are now 10 points ahead of Doha with two games remaining following a comprehensive 46-9 win at Jebel Ali Dragons.

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