Exiles Comeback Stuns Dragons In Dubai 7s Final In Gulf Mens League final 2017
Dubai Exiles produced a display full of character to snatch a comeback victory over Jebel Ali Dragons and claim the Gulf Men’s League title at the Dubai 7s. Having fallen 12-0 down to a Dragons outfit buoyed by a semi-final win over Abu Dhabi Harlequins and backed by a vocal contingent of supporters and their very own mascot Chinese dragon, the occasion could have easily run away from Exiles early on. It took a show of guts, belief and a discipline that eluded their opponents to overhaul the deficit and claim a 19-12 triumph.
The game arguably hinged on a two minute spell at the end of the first half where a period of sustained Exiles pressure saw Jebel Ali concede two yellow cards in immediate succession, allowing Exiles to go in at half time level at 12-12. Dragons defended heroically to only concede the one try while down to five men, but the physical toll that took on them was to be telling in the closing stages of a tense second period.
It was Terry Jacobs who finally broke the deadlock, scampering under the posts with less than a minute remaining on the clock after a series of rumbustious Exiles charges had been rebuffed by desperate Dragons defence. Just as valuable was the intervention made a minute earlier by DuRandt Gerber whose scramble defence stopped what had looked a certain Dragons score in the right hand corner.
The result will be a bitter pill to swallow for a Dragons side who have now fallen at the final hurdle two years in succession. They had made all the early running with flying winger Niko Valavola to the fore in setting up the opening score. It was Valavola again whose powerful tackle produced the turnover which eventually led to Nick McCashin ghosting through the middle to open up what then looked an ominous 12-0 lead, before Exiles hauled themselves back in to contention with Tomas Sackmann’s brace just before the interval.
Exiles’ triumph ends Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ stranglehold on the domestic game in the UAE. Last year’s holders were edged out 21-19 by the Dragons at the semi final stage after having also fallen to the Exiles in Thursday’s pool matches. Exiles themselves progressed to the final courtesy of a 24-14 win over Dubai Hurricanes.
Gulf Mens League Final:
Dubai Exiles: Kris Hughes, Jaen Botes, Justin Welsh, Matt Mills, DuRandt Gerber, Kyle van Rooyan, Danny Waddy, Tomas Sackmann, Thinus Steyn, Carel Thomas, Jeremaia Kilicanasau, Terry Jacobs
Jebel Ali Dragons: Scott Hayes, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Hamilton, Ian Overton, Ethan Matthews, Nicholas McCashin, Kris Greene, Ross Samson, James Love, Matthew Richards, Niko Valavola, Sakiusa Naisau
Match Report: Huw Harrow