Dubai Derby day in Sports City
With the Knights confidence boosting win over the Saracens last weekend, you might have had your money on the home side to take the win in this local Dubai derby matchup against a struggling Sharks side.
Unfortunately for the Knights, things didn’t go their way, losing the game 24-39 to the Sharks. A lack of ball control at the breakdown and silly penalties led to a couple of turnover tries, which saw the Sharks quick to capitalise on their mistakes. For the Knights, there were some solid runs from Kassim Buyondo and Sean Corroon and some good defensive work from winger Will Boardman. The build up to this game for the Knights was slightly unsettled as their first choice hooker – Serunjoji Paul was ruled out with a broken foot with Jake Myers stepping into the position for the first time.
Knights Manager, John Taimana said, “At the end of the day, we lost the match at the breakdown with ball security not up to the standard required.”
He went on to say “The ruck was hotly contested and a number of penalties ensured that one team was able to put pressure on, which for this game was the Sharks” before finally adding, “Now, we prepare for the Bottom 5 rounds and will look forward to facing them again.”
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The Sharks can be pleased with themselves after a disappointing post sevens period of rugby, culminating in them having to forfeit last weeks game against the Exiles, simply because they did not have enough fit players. Yesterdays derby saw the return of Dan Crumplin in the front row, who put in a ‘man of the match’ performance with his relentless defence. This game also saw captain and UAE strongman, Joe Corcoran returning after the birth of his first child and putting in some solid contact. Together, they managed to set a platform for the team to get a rhythm going.
There is still a long list of players yet to return from injury for the Sharks, who will only strengthen the side but the coaches will be faced with selection headaches from players coming off the bench and holding their hands up – Paul Waters in particular having a good spell at full back.
Head coach Adrian Cartwright said, “Naturally, we’re disappointed to not be getting a Top 6 finish, something that seemed to almost be a given after 4 wins from the opening 6 games, but injuries have had a significant impact since the Dubai Sevens and so yesterday was reassuring for many of the guys.”
Cartwright added, “Most importantly, the game was played in great spirit and was a good match to watch with the Knights threatening right to the end, resulting in both teams seeming to enjoy the afternoon.”
Both teams now out of the race to be in contention with a Top 6 place, this game was all about the bragging rights and the turf war. As local Dubai derbys go, this Sports City fixture was always going to be a good one to watch.
Other Conference Results
Elsewhere in the UAE Conference, Amblers just secured their place in the Top 6 with a strong performance over the Saracens, beating them 63-10. They finished level in the table with Tigers but go through on points difference. The Wasps vs Tigers game was forfeited due to Wasps injury troubles seeing them unable to put a side together. A strong performance from the Harlequins 2’s saw them end the unbeaten run from the Dragons 2’s, winning convincingly 41-18. Over at The Sevens, the Hurricanes 2’s just scraped a win against Exiles 2’s with a last minute try in the corner after a late scrum, leading to their flanker diving over from 5 yards out, taking the victory 39-34. It will be an interesting next few months as we now split the Conference League into Top 6 and Bottom 5.
By Alex Johnson