Sharjah Wanderers one win away from unbeaten season

Matt Jones - Editor 11:05 24/03/2016
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Sharjah Wanderers and Jebel Ali clash for the UAE Conference Top 6 title.

It’s been a dominant campaign for Nic Walters’ unbeaten men, whose only dropped points came in a 20-20 draw with Dragons in the UAE Conference in November. Wanderers have carried that form into the post-Christmas Top 6, racking up five more wins.

Their latest triumph was an 18-3 victory last week against tomorrow’s opponents, a result which gives them home-field advantage. Reaching the final is a fantastic feat for Sharjah, considering they lost their head coach and some

important players in the summer. “It’s been a fairytale season for us,” admitted club chairman Shane Breen.  “At the end of last season we knew we were losing our coach and a couple of key players, which was disappointing but gave us the impetus to change things up a bit.

“We managed to secure Nic as coach who had been an integral part of the club for three years and was highly liked and respected by the players. A lack of depth was a major reason we always seemed to struggle at the end of seasons when results mattered. Fortunately we were able to recruit some great players who lifted the squad and with the help of Nic and the other coaches everything seemed to fall into place.”

Despite drawing first blood with a win in Jebel Ali last week, Breen is taking nothing for granted.

“We know Dragons will be much more determined in the final,” he warned. “They were unbeaten until they played us and Sharjah v Dragons games are always extremely competitive.”

Dragons have their own motivation, having lost last year’s Top 6 showpiece to Al Ain Amblers.

“It’s not even been mentioned, only in a sense that we need to better it, so it’s more positive than negative,” said head coach Robbie Cameron, who joined in January after six years at Dubai Hurricanes. “It was my first loss last week. I was disappointed but we have a chance to put that right this weekend.”

History is also on Cameron’s side in this game. Two years ago he led Canes to an upset against Amblers, having lost the final league fixture against them a week earlier, so he doesn’t think Sharjah hold any psychological advantage.

“History could be about to repeat itself, that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “Sharjah are without doubt best team in the Conference this year, they deserved their record, but we’re the only team to take a point off them. We’re capable of beating them.”

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