Catch up on Friday’s UAE Conference Rugby
Jump right in with this spooky special…
Team of the Week – Sharjah Wanderers
It has been an eventful week for one of the UAE’s oldest clubs, with their 40th anniversary celebration taking place last weekend. After the festivities, which saw former players return to Sharjah from all over the world, it was back to business on Friday for the Wanderers 1s who were able to knuckle down and hold off Al Ain Amblers 1s 41-31 and in do so maintain the only 100% record left standing in the Conference. They were made to work hard by an Amblers side who, despite their lowly league position, have been one of the division’s most free scoring outfits so far this season but were ultimately good value for a bonus point win. It wasn’t quite enough to claim top spot with Abu Dhabi Harlequins a point ahead having played a game more, but the start to the season should see Sharjah well placed to finish comfortably in the top half and prove genuine contenders to regain the crown they won in 2015-16.
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Weekends with no Premiership fixtures provide an opportunity for the bigger clubs to offer game time to some fringe players at Conference level and in this context it is perhaps unsurprising to see two strong performances recorded by Dubai Exiles 2s and Jebel Ali Dragons 2s. The Exiles thumped winless Dubai Sharks 73-7 with the Sharks yet to find the new home in Jebel Ali to be a happy hunting ground. Meanwhile the Dragons put a stop to Dubai Tigers’ recent winning run with a hard fought 26-17 victory. Both sides in doing so keep up the pressure behind the early season pace-setters and look well placed for a top half finish as the first round of matches reaches the halfway point.
The Wanderers-Amblers clash was in fact the only other fixture to go ahead this weekend with Arabian Knights unable to field a team for their trip to Abu Dhabi Harlequins due to front row shortages. The early season struggles for both the Knights and the Sharks are reflective of significant off-season turmoil endured by both clubs having lost the use of Sports City as their base. The Knights have the benefit of a bye week coming up in which to regroup ahead of a clash with the Sharks on November 10th which will offer both sides the chance to kick-start their seasons.