Jebel Ali Dragons are treating their Gulf Top Six game against Abu Dhabi Harlequins this Friday like a grand final, because they are still unsure whether there will be one this season.
The Asian Rugby Football Union West Asia (ARFU West Asia) who run the regional competition are confident there will be a final but have yet to announce an official date due to a potential clash with the UAE’s Asian 5 Nations Division I campaign.
With only five games left in the regular season, the confusion is not helpful to either clubs or their players but third-placed Dragons are determined to take matters into their own hands this weekend.
“If there is no grand final then this game is our final but we don’t know, which is never a good position to be in,” Dragons captain Olly Reynolds said.
“We need to man up a bit. We haven’t performed really well and clicked since the final against the Hurricanes. Even if there is no play-off we will have made a pretty strong statement if we beat Quins.”
Quins shocked the UAE Premiership champions on the opening day, winning 34-7, and Reynolds admits that result has had a knock-on effect.
“Quins played well but we didn’t turn up and that’s what’s disappointing for our boys and that set the tone for the rest of the Gulf Top Six. It’s always nice to start with a win, we didn’t and we’ve struggled to get the momentum back.”
Momentum has not been something Quins have struggled for, winning five from five to establish a six-point lead at the top of the table.
Player-coach Jeremy Manning is expecting a reaction from the Dragons though. He said: “They are a very tough team to play at their own ground and we were fortunate enough to beat them in the first round.
“We might have gone the first half unbeaten but I still think the Dragons are the top side in this competition. So, we’re sort of looking at it as an underdog going away and playing the best team in the UAE.”
Elsewhere, Doha travel to Dubai to face the Hurricanes while Bahrain host Abu Dhabi Saracens, who are still looking for their first win.
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