Gulf Rugby Round Up Week 16
A look back at the final round of regular season action in the top two leagues, and our first taste of knockout rugby in both the Premiership and Community leagues.
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Team of the Week – Al Ain Amblers 1s
One of this most intriguing storylines to evolve from this season has been the rivalry between Al Ain Amblers and Abu Dhabi Saracens as both looked to secure the second Pool B semi-final slot, behind the dominant Dubai Tigers. An impressive 34-22 away win at Hurricanes 2s sealed qualification for the Amblers and indeed second place in the combined league table having lost only three matches this year (two coming against Tigers). They must now repeat the trick in the semi finals as, despite a larger points haul, Canes will enjoy home advantage due to the fact they were top of Pool A.
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West Asia Premiership
Bahrain and Dubai Exiles will contest the final next week in Bahrain after both winning their semi finals this weekend. Bahrain will go in as favourites, having topped the league rankings they underlined their pedigree in crushing Jebel Ali Dragons 56-7. Exiles upset Abu Dhabi Harlequins 31-16 at Zayed Sports City to earn their place in the showpiece. The season will then culminate with the UAE Premiership semi finals offering Quins, Exiles, Dragons and Hurricanes (who missed out on the West Asia knockouts) another chance for silverware at finals day.
The aforementioned Amblers were the big winners of the weekend in claiming the only playoff spot left up for grabs. Abu Dhabi Saracens benefitted from a forfeit by Exiles 2s to also gain a 5pt win, but Amblers superior point difference takes them through by the finest of margins. In the only dead-rubber match to go ahead, Dragons 2s eased past Sharks 41-12.
UAE Conference Semi Final Line-up (March 22)
Dubai Hurricanes 2s (A1) v Al Ain Amblers (B2), Dubai Tigers (B1) v Jebel Ali Dragons 2s (A2)
The semi final fixtures took place last weekend and as widely expected it will be Barrelhouse and Dragons 3s who meet to contest the honours on finals day. There was nearly a shock in the first semi final however, with Barrelhouse surprisingly pushed all the way by a Harlequins 3s side, perhaps benefitting from absence of a 2s fixture. In the end, Barrelhouse edged out a 19-15 win and will look to complete an unbeaten season by winning the final. Dragons’ qualification was somewhat more straightforward, overcoming a spirited RAK Rugby side 31-5.
UAE Community Final (March 8)
Barrelhouse v Jebel Ali Dragons 3s
Article by: Huw Harrow