Mike McFarlane’s men were clinical and looked slick as they sauntered to victory over their Sri Lankan visitors at Zayed Sports City last night in their second game of the Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League.
The title will now go down to Friday’s match at The Sevens, where Exiles will have to better Quins’ score to add the crown to their UAE Premiership and West Asia Championship haul of last season.
Kandy drew first blood when outside half Arshad Tamaldeen beautifully bisected the uprights after Quins had infringed in the 10th minute.
The hosts responded by scoring 49 points without reply, playing some free-flowing rugby despite the uncomfortably sticky conditions.
Livewire winger Barry Dwyer responded for Quins five minutes after going behind, brilliantly stepping his marker to go in under the posts for the game’s first try.
Just after half an hour, new signing Misinale Taukolo prosperered when he picked up a loose ball from a ruck to stroll over from close range with no Kandy defender in sight.
Dwyer had his second just before the break, again showing quick feet and elusive speed to scoot over out wide before touching down under the posts, Luke Stevenson adding his third conversion as Quins led 21-3 at the break.
Any hope of a Kandy comeback was extinguished in five second half minutes as Quins doubled their try count through three new faces.
Explosive centre Willie Umu set up former Al Ain Amblers winger Emosi Vecanuau before two more tries from flankers Patrick Jenkinson and Hayden Thompson Green put the hosts out of sight.
The impressive Jenkinson might have had a second but was called back for a forward pass, before a penalty try on the hour put Quins on the cusp of a half century of points.
Kandy, who had served notice of their intent throughout, deservedly got on the board after good defence and poor handling had threatened to leave them without a significant score.
Hooker Damith Dissanayaka finished off a good move before replacement Danushka Ranjajan showed searing pace to go under for a second minutes later, Tamaldeen converting both to give the scoreline a touch of respect at 49-17.
Quins had the last word with Number 8 Conor Canny finishing off a rolling maul in the last minute.
A job well done for Quins, who will now wait to see if it is enough with Kandy travelling to Dubai in two days’ time.
The inaugural tournament ended in farce a year ago when an ambulance was unavailable for a game between then West Asia Cup champions Abu Dhabi Saracens and Sri Lankan champions Kandy.
This year there are only three teams competing as the Kazakhstan representatives dropped out. Jalajel, however, believes these are teething problems any fledgling competition experiences.
“We appreciate it’s early days and it is in the infancy stage. it’s a work in progress. It’s educational and it will get there,” said Jalajel, Asia Rugby’s West Asia development consultant.
“Clubs and unions are interested and now we have some interest in the east of Asia. The vision is one day we’ll have a winner from here and the east playing in a big tournament.
Kandy, Doha and teams who played last year loved it and thought it was brilliant. Kandy are back so hopefully it will become something to aspire to be in.
“If you win the West Asia Premiership or get to the final you get a chance to compete against the best in Asia, which you want to do as a player and as a team.
“Some of the feedback we had was that timing could be different, maybe it’s a bit too early, we’re happy to look at it, but it’s something we need to grow and become one of our high performance competitions.
“Hopefully next year it will be in a better position and we’ll have a fourth team join us. It’s a step in the right direction.”
The ex-Cardiff University head coach took the reins in July and has already made a lot of noise with the addition of several bright young stars from his homeland.
The Janabiyah-based side beat reigning champions Abu Dhabi Saracens in their opening West Asia Championship (WAC) game in January, eventually tailing off to finish sixth, but they are expected to improve again this season after a decent 2015/16 campaign.
“It was a really good start but we’re looking forward to playing Doha at home on the 16th which will be a much sterner test,” Tonkin said of his side’s landslide victory at Dubai Sports City.
He was full of praise for several new signings, including scrum-half Justin James, the former Llanelli player scoring a hat-trick.
He added: “The new players played really well. Justin James was really sharp. Wing Sean Ross made his debut and scored two tries, two centres Alastair Crombie and Adam Wallace had fantastic games, picking up a brace of tries each.
“We managed to give the whole squad a run-out so I was really pleased they kept the score to nil. The boys really focused on the basics, things we’ve worked on over the last two months. Structure, individual skill-sets, getting fitness in and putting it all into practice.”
Bahrain’s biggest test will come on September 16, a week before the new season starts, at home against rivals Doha, but Tonkin insisted on coming to Dubai so he and his players could acclimatise to travelling.
“I wanted to get the new guys used to the logistics, as well as myself,” he said. “Getting 30 guys on a plane, through customs. We wanted to get used to the timings, playing a night game in Dubai.
“Sharks weren’t the best opposition in terms of standard but were really committed and attacked us with intent. They might be in the second tier but they were fantastic hosts and we had a good time.”