Champions Bahrain suffered their maiden defeat of the new West Asia Premiership season and, just like last year, it arrived at the hands of Dubai Exiles, who made it two straight wins.
Bahrain lost just one of their 15 fixtures last term, with Exiles delivering defeat last October before the men from The Sevens then pushed them all the way in the WAP final, the west Asia side just edging home 23-21.
And Exiles proved to be their nemesis once more, triumphing 21-15 in Dubai on Friday. Coach Jacques Benade believes that the early standard set by teams could result in a very tight title fight in 2019/20.
“It was a big performance from the guys. Good rugby played by both teams and very competitive,” said the South African.
“I do think this year it’ll go all the way to the last game for all the teams.
“The league looks very competitive and Tigers have definitely got the pack to compete against any team in this league.”
His thoughts are shared by Bahrain forwards coach and hooker Lindsay Gibson.
“It was a tough one, it could have gone either way with two good teams battling hard,” said the Scotsman.
“We believe it will be a close league this season, proved by Tigers’ win and how close Canes pushed Exiles last week. It’s good for the league but we are still disappointed to lose the game.”
Indeed, Dubai Tigers have impressed hugely in the early throes of the new campaign, going down respectably 39-5 against Bahrain on opening night before giving Abu Dhabi Harlequins a mighty fright last week before eventually succumbing to a 29-27 loss.
But it was third time lucky against Jebel Ali Dragons as former Italy international Aaron Persico’s men won a close game 30-25 at Dubai Sports City.
It is Quins who top the table after week three with a perfect 100 per cent record. They beat Dubai Knights Eagles, although the amalgamated outfit impressed in a 55-19 defeat.
Niall Lear’s capital city side are top with three bonus point wins, putting them on 15 points, four ahead of Bahrain in second.
Dubai Tigers 30 Jebel Ali Dragons 25
Dubai Exiles 21 Bahrain 15
Dubai Knights Eagles 19 Abu Dhabi Harlequins 55
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