Benade hopes Exiles can keep in touch at top with ZSC pace-setters

Matt Jones - Editor 07:51 19/10/2015
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Unstoppable: Full-back Rapello tries to get to grips with marauding Umu.

Jacques Benade says he has seen enough from his Dubai Exiles side to believe they can challenge Abu Dhabi Harlequins for this season’s UAE Premiership.

Quins had steamrollered their way to three straight wins, scoring 116 points and conceding just 10 prior to Friday’s thrilling encounter with Exiles at Zayed Sports City which saw the home side clinch a last gasp victory thanks to a length-of-the-field try.

The hosts had been second best for large periods of the game against an impressive visiting team, who had also come into the clash defending an unbeaten start to the season.

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Having played for 20 minutes with 14 men following Stephen Ferguson’s red card, Benade feels it’s important his side recover from this disappointment.

“I don’t know how we lost that, I really don’t. I’m gutted for the boys,” said the South African. 

“I think at the end the 14 men cost us because we had to work so hard with seven men in the pack. We had to deal with a bit of pressure because we know they’re so dangerous in the back line.

“Last week we probably were second best at (Abu Dhabi) Saracens but won and now we deserved to win this game but lost, and that’s how rugby is and what makes it so interesting.”

Benade felt his side made a big statement by coming to the home of the champions and playing so well.

“I’m just so proud of the boys for coming here and the way they played,” he said. 

“As a team we worked really hard. Hopefully we will keep getting better and better and the boys definitely put their hands up today. It was a big test for us coming to the home of the champions and we almost had them. 

“We need to now get over this and realise we had it almost, we competed against those boys but it’s a big game now again next week. 

“We need to chase those boys (Quins) all the way. There are a lot of positives to take from the match but let’s focus on next week.”

Quins’ winger Chris Marshall was also impressed with Exiles but was happy with the mettle his side showed to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2015-16 Premiership campaign.

The UAE sevens international endured a mixed game. He replaced the injured Max Trimble early on and made an instant impact with a try, but he was forced off soon after when he dislocated his shoulder in the process of scoring.

“It’s a dislocated shoulder. Someone just caught me a bit weird and I almost forgot to put the ball down, but three weeks and I should be back. It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Despite an impressive start to the season, the injuries are piling up for Quins head coach Mike McFarlane. Marshall and Trimble added to several other injuries sustained, incluidng Agustin Arias who was injured in the warm-up.

“I think we’ve got about five injuries tonight, with (scrum-half) Sam Bolger ending up playing on the wing, but we did alright in the end,” said Marshall. 

“We’ve got nine first choice players injured already so it’s not ideal.”

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