News from the first round of Gulf Rugby action in 2019 with fixtures taking place across all three men’s divisions last weekend.
Jump right in…
Team of the Week – Bahrain
A week where fixtures largely went according to the formbook contained no stand out results with high scoring home wins largely the order of the day. West Asia Premiership leaders Bahrain are the major exception, travelling to The Sevens to face a resurgent Hurricanes still buoyant from their Dubai 7s triumph last month, they dismantled the home side to win 44-19 claiming a bonus point and maintaining their cushion over Abu Dhabi Harlequins ahead of next week’s top of the table clash in the capital.
West Asia Premiership
Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Harlequins both kept up the pace at the top of the table with high scoring bonus point wins. With Bahrain dispatching a Hurricanes side who came in to the week in third place, the gap between the top two and the rest has in fact widened further. A win for Jebel Ali Dragons in a high scoring 54-31 encounter with Dubai Eagles moves them up in to third, leapfrogging both Canes and Dubai Exiles. We can expect to see plenty of jostling for position between these three in the season’s closing weeks.
The West Asia playoff race is now looking clear as Dragons, Exiles and Canes all fight amongst themselves for 3rd and 4th places in the table to secure playoff action, all signs point towards January 18th’s crunch fixture at Zayed Sports City between Harlequins and Bahrain acting as this year’s title decider.
The last round of initial group fixtures before crossover matches between 1s and 2s sides contained no surprises. Harlequins and Dragons 2s racked up comfortable home wins over Exiles and Eagles 2s respectively. It was ‘must win’ territory for Quins as they eased past Exiles 32-8, still sit 10pts behind Hurricanes 2s, who had a bye week, and mathematically at least still in the race for a playoff place as a result. Amongst the 1s group, Abu Dhabi Saracens put together a convincing win over Arabian Knights, who, despite being yet to register a win this season, deserve credit for continuing to compete week in week out. The real drama came over at Al Ain Amblers where Dubai Tigers having gone all of 2018 unbeaten, nearly came unstuck at this year’s first hurdle but held on to edge past the home side 22-19.
Wins for Barrelhouse and Dragons 3s maintained both sides’ 100% records and further increased the likelihood that they will meet on finals day to decide the title. In falling to league leaders Barrelhouse 43-7, RAK Rugby slip behind Tigers 2s in the chasing pack. After a difficult start to the season, Tigers have registered three wins on the bounce, edging out local rivals Dubai Sharks 2s 26-25, and could yet sneak into contention if they can win away at the Dragons at the end of the month. There were over 100 points scored in the weekend’s other fixture in Al Ain where the Amblers 2s defeated Shaheen 67-36. Consolation for the Shaheen comes in the form of a 4 try bonus point and their first league points of the 2018/19 campaign.
Top Point Scorers
If you’re looking to see who’s got the latest ‘bragging rights’ in our Top Scorers table, then head straight over to our Top 10 Stats page.
Article by: Huw Harrow