Dubai Exiles 38-12 Abu Dhabi Harlequins
It wasn’t quite the thrilling climax to the domestic season we were anticipating under the lights in Sports City, but that will not matter one bit to Dubai Exiles who captured their second piece of silverware for the campaign with a composed victory over the holders.
In a somewhat fractious and disjointed affair, it was Exiles who kept their discipline the better of the two sides, leading from early on and in truth never looking likely to relinquish their advantage. The breakdown was ferociously contested throughout the 80mins meaning that both sides found continuity somewhat hard to come by.
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In the absence of more free flowing fare, both teams looked to their fly halves to manage the game with many phases of play characterised by spelling of aerial ping pong. In Durant Gerber and Luke Stevenson both sides have quality operators in the 10 jersey and both showed it once again today. Each man enjoyed his own moments of brilliance, Gerber thumping over an early penalty from all of 45 metres with Stevenson showing delicious slight of hand to put replacement wing Barry Dwyer in for a second half try.
That score, off the back of a well rehearsed training ground routine off the back of a scrum came immediately after Exiles suffered a yellow card for repeated infringements near the line and briefly had the game well and truly on at 20-12 to the Dubai side. However Harlequins’ discipline dogged them throughout the evening and almost immediately from the kick off found themselves also down to 14 for collapsing a maul and the familiar sight of Gerber lining up to add another three points and further stretch the lead.
From then on in you sensed Exiles had the game under control. Quins’ Fijian pair in the backline, Emosi Vecanua and Natuna Kiniviliame mounted the occasional foray into Exiles territory but the black jerseys were always back in sufficient numbers to counter the threat with hooker Gio Fourie and number 8 Jaen Botes particularly influential. It was the giant Botes’ hack down field in the closing seconds that paved the way for Carel Thomas to notch his second try of the game, adding extra gloss to what was already a comfortable scoreline.
Dubai Exiles: Luke Waddington, Gio Fourie, Liam Andrews, Stephen Ferguson, Tom Gregory, Tomas Sackman, Matt Mills, Jaen Botes, Carel Thomas, Durant Gerber, Justin Walsh, James Crossley, Rory Arthur, Kyle van Rooyen, Thinus Steyn
Substitutes: David Gairn, Kristian Stinson, Kris Hughes, Luke Bertini, Alex Fowler, Josh Riding, Tom Williams
Abu Dhabi Harlequins: Peter Killan, Alfred Ries, Craig Nutt, Philip Brady, Andrew Shields, Eskia Dranbota, Sean Stevens, Sirilo Laladidi, Andrew Semple, Luke Stevenson, Emosi Vecanua, Natuna Kiniviliame, Joe Teasdale, Kobus Cronje, Matt Thomas
Substitutes: Murray Reason, Chris Jones-Griffiths, Semisi Seruitanoa, Mark Challis, Mike Pugliese, Tom Brown, Barry Dwyer