After 47 fixtures and over 2,500 points scored, this season’s West Asia Premiership reaches its climax on Friday with a grand final to decide the 2019 Champions. Here’s what you need to know.
When and where is it on?
The final will be hosted by Bahrain at their home ground in Saar. Having gone into the end of season playoffs as number one seeds, they earn the right to stage the final at home in front of the so-called ‘red wall’ of support. The event promises a carnival atmosphere with live music and kids entertainment, entry is free for club members and BAR2 for guests. Kick-off is scheduled for 17:00 but if you can’t make it to the game in person, Bahrain are planning to run a live stream via the club’s facebook page.
How did they get there?
Finishing first and third respectively after 15 rounds of regular season games, saw both sides through to last weekend’s semi-finals. Top seeds Bahrain benefitted from home advantage, cruising to a 56-7 win over reigning champions Jebel Ali Dragons. Exiles faced a tougher assignment, away to Abu Dhabi Harlequins side who had finished 13pts above them in the final league standings, coming away with an upset 31-16 win.
What does the formbook say?
It would be difficult to argue against Bahrain going into the final as favourites. Any away fixture in Saar is a tough assignment for sides having to take the morning flight across the Arabian Gulf – let alone in a season where Bahrain have been beaten only once in the XVs format. Intriguingly however, the only side to have got the better of them this season, is in fact the Exiles, in a 31-20 win back in October at The Sevens. The recent return fixture saw a Bahrain win by an identical margin of 11pts. So in head to head fixtures there is nothing to choose between the two and Exiles will fancy themselves as the side to halt the Bahrain juggernaut at the final hurdle.
Bahrain Captain: Adam Wallace
Bahrain Captain Adam Wallace is relishing the upcoming match against Exiles. He said;
“Winning the title at home would mean everything to us. As a squad we talk a lot about giving back to the club and being able to repay their support with knockout games and title playoffs is massive for us. We have a fantastic fanbase at the club and that’s seen every week in the size of our crowd and we know that without that we wouldn’t be where we are today. As the only club on the island we get huge support from everyone. The club itself will benefit massively on the day, but if this had been an away game you would have seen an entire crowd of redshirts making their way over to the UAE this weekend and I think that’s rare out here. We’re expecting a big turnout this weekend and the #redwall will be out in force.”
“There have been some issues with the league structure over the past couple of seasons and we are well aware that we are the only team outside of the UAE since Doha’s exclusion. Winning the title this weekend will hopefully cement the idea that inter-gulf rugby must continue if you want to have the most competitive league and continue to develop the sport in the region.”
Dubai Exiles: TBC
Article By: Huw Harrow