Bahrain coach Louie Tonkin is pleased by progress made during his tenure

Matt Jones - Editor 22:50 22/10/2017
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Louie Tonkin's Bahrain now lead the way in the West Asia Premiership.

Louie Tonkin is delighted with the undoubted progress his Bahrain side have made during his tenure having kept their unbeaten start to the West Asia Premiership season in tact on Friday.

Bahrain beat Dubai Exiles 18-15 at The Sevens – making it three games without defeat for the Welshman’s side as they head into a mini two-week break ahead of the sevens hiatus.

Having drawn 15-15 with Abu Dhabi Harlequins in their opening game – the first time Bahrain hadn’t lost in four games against Mike McFarlane’s men with Tonkin at the helm – and earning a maiden triumph against Exiles under his watch, Tonkin is hugely encouraged by his side’s start to the campaign.

“The three games we’ve had so far this season have been massive improvements on last season’s results,” said Tonkin.

“We lost to Exiles twice last year, we’ve not beaten them in my tenure so we’re really, really pleased. We lost to Quins last season and drew with them this year.

“We lost to Sarries away last year and got five points this year and we lost to Exiles last year too and picked up four points this year, so we’re improving on last year and improving each week too.”

Defeat meant back to back losses for Exiles, having opened their season with two wins, with the result following going down 22-18 the previous week to Jebel Ali Dragons.

Tonkin had previously steeled his charges for a testing early season period with Bahrain facing three away games on the bounce. And with two victories earned from their first two road trips, Tonkin now wants his team to complete the treble when Dubai Hurricanes are faced after the break on November 3.

“We’ve got two weeks to build to Hurricanes. They did well against Quins and seem to be improving under a very good coach in Mike,” said Tonkin after Canes lost narrowly 28-12 to Quins at Zayed Sports City on Friday.

“We’re looking forward to going back to Dubai and trying to pick up a third victory on UAE soil. It’s a difficult away period for us right now so that would be huge.

“We’ll focus on freshening up the environment and the bodies this week so if we pick up some points at The Sevens in a few weeks’ time we’ll be in a very good place going into the second half of the season.”

Just like Dragons rejoiced a week earlier having survived a late scare against Exiles, something they have regularly been on the end of in recent times, Tonkin was also pleased his side’s fortunes seem to have turned around.

“Exiles will feel hard done by as they had chances to win it and we had a little bit of luck, which is good because these sorts of games fell away from us last season so they’re falling our way for a change,” he added.

“It was a humdinger of a game, two massive packs going hammer and tong at each other. Our defence is growing week on week, we’ve conceded only one try in three games which is a great stat.

“The set-piece is going well too, we’ve had the same group of forwards for the last few games but our attack isn’t functioning very well right now.

“We’re not building substantial amounts of attacks on our opponents so that’s a focus in the next few weeks for us moving forward, and we feel when that clicks we’ll be in a really good position with our defence being so good.”

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