West Asia Premiership still the focus for Hurricanes as they concentrate on Dubai Sevens defence

Matt Jones - Editor 19:38 23/11/2019
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Canes (yellow/black) have had a fine start to the season.

Dubai Hurricanes will be hurtling towards the Dubai Rugby Sevens next month fully intent on sweeping to a second-successive title, but head coach Mike Wernham insists wreaking havoc on the XVs season and the West Asia Premiership remains a priority too.

Canes headed into the mini-season break as is custom for sevens season on a high with a 37-17 triumph over Dubai Tigers on Friday. And they head into the sevens and festive period in third place in the Premiership – certainly higher than they have been used to at the midway point of recent campaigns.

Victory was their third straight and sees Wernham’s men sitting pretty in third place on 21 points – five adrift of Bahrain in second and seven adrift of leaders Dubai Exiles. Four wins from six and five bonus points has set the tone for a resurgence from a side that has been floating around in limbo for much of the last five years, ever since losing the 2014 UAE Premiership final to Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

But after steady improvement last term, Canes have been terrific this season. And even though they will now be concentrating on retaining their Gulf Men’s League trophy after a stunning win over Quins at The Sevens last December – their first Dubai title in 11 years.

Wernham is adamant they will come back fighting when the WAP season resumes in January.

“We’re not sitting top of the league but in comparison to previous years, we’re in a great position as a club at the midway point,” said Wernham following their triumph over Tigers.

“Third in West Asia. We’re still disappointed by our Exiles defeat, by three points (Canes were beaten 23-20 by their fellow Sevens Stadium occupants in October), so we’re looking forward to that return in January.

“We won’t be slacking off during this mini break. The Sevens boys will be working hard but the other boys will still be hitting the gym too and we’ll be looking to come back in January and hitting the ground running.”

Tigers have earned rave reviews already this term for their tenacity and talent – making a mockery of the gulf between the first and second tier, having been the first team to accept promotion to the elite echelon of UAE rugby in five years.

They are the first second tier champions to accept promotion since Al Ain Amblers in 2015/16, who could not bridge the chasm and self-relegated the following year. Tigers lie fifth of the seven teams with two wins and four defeats.

And Wernham was hugely impressed with what he saw.

“We were pleased to come away with another bonus point win,” added Wernham.

“Fair play to Tigers, they didn’t make it easy and again justified why they should be here. They were up for it and set a good physical tone for the game and definitely did not look out of place. They’ve had two scalps already and will look to kick on from that.

“We were a little frustrated after setting off at an incredible pace. We were 12-0 up then switched off a little, let them back into it. We just had enough quality to see the game out.”

Elsewhere, Exiles remained perfect with a sixth successive victory – Jacques Benade’s men hammering Dubai Knights Eagles 79-11. Bahrain, whose only defeat came at the hands of Exiles, maintained their grip on second spot with a similarly gargantuan scoreline, defeating Jebel Ali Dragons 61-14.

West Asia Premiership results

Friday

Jebel Ali Dragons 14 Bahrain 61

Dubai Hurricanes 37 Dubai Tigers 17

Dubai Exiles 79 Dubai Knights Eagles 11

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