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Team of the Week – Abu Dhabi Harlequins 1s
Harlequins ran out 29-25 victors over an Exiles side who have made a strong start to this season and in doing so maintain their unbeaten start. While the victory may seem unremarkable for a side so accustomed to success, Quins played on Friday under particularly tough circumstances having been dealt the devastating blow of learning that their centre Garth van Niekerk who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer sadly passed away. Our thoughts are with all those who knew him. A fitting tribute was paid by both sides in putting on a closely contested match and joining together to set traditional rivalries set aside at the final whistle.
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Harlequins remain unbeaten but it is Jebel Ali Dragons enjoying top spot after a comfortable bonus point win 40-9 over winless Abu Dhabi Saracens. Quins still look well placed with three wins from three but a points difference of only +13 shows that this year’s side is not quite the juggernaut that swept all-comers aside last season. Dubai Hurricanes were also in action, falling 34-17 at home to Bahrain, who have enjoyed an extremely impressive start to the campaign.
Having both set the early season pace, all eyes this weekend were on the clash at Zayed Sports City between Abu Dhabi Harlequins 2s and Sharjah Wanderers. The action on the field certainly did not disappoint, with the Quins surviving a late onslaught to hold on to a 24-23 win, ending Sharjah’s unbeaten start to the campaign. Both sides now look relatively assured of a top half finish and with Dubai Sharks and Arabian Knights cut adrift at the foot of the table the focus in coming weeks will be on the scramble to secure top half berths with five sides in the hunt. Dubai Tigers now head the chasing pack after dispatching Dubai Sharks 55-7 in a repeat of last season’s bottom half final. Al Ain Amblers have pulled themselves back in to the mix courtesy of a 31-29 win over Jebel Ali Dragons 2s, while Dubai Hurricanes 2s, produced an impressive display to confine Dubai Exiles 2s to a 27-12 defeat at the Sevens.
As ever, plenty of high scoring affairs in the Community league, with Hurricanes 3s once again on the wrong end of a basketball score in their 45-36 defeat to the Amblers 2s just two weeks after succumbing 57-55 to Dragons 3s. There were impressive wins for both Beaver Nomads and RAK over Harlequins 4s and 3s respectively, which leave both sides well placed towards the top of the standings. The most competitive fixture of the week provided some welcome respite for Arabian Knights with their 2s holding off Dubai Sports City Eagles 2s in their first completed fixture at Community level by a scoreline of 26-25.