Abu Dhabi Harlequins leave it late and use last-gasp try to edge Dubai Exiles

Barry Dwyer’s injury-time winner for Abu Dhabi Harlequins helps maintain the 100 per cent record of the defending UAE Premiership champions and breaks the hearts of a courageous Dubai Exiles side, reports Paul Radley.

Abu Dhabi Harlequins pull down a Dubai Exile player and then pursue the ball during their win on Friday night. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
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Abu Dhabi Harlequins 22 Dubai Exiles 18

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Tries: S Bolger, Marshall, Dwyer; Cons: Stevenson 2; Pen: Stevenson

Dubai Exiles Tries: Sargent, Ferguson; Con: Gerber; Pens: Gerber 2; Red card: Ferguson

Man of the match Willy Umu (Harlequins)

ABU DHABI // Barry Dwyer’s injury-time winner for Abu Dhabi Harlequins was such a show-stopper, even his colleagues in the forward pack were getting emotional.

It earned him the dubious reward of a kiss on the head from a gnarled second-rower, and a lift off the field from the hooker and captain Phil Abraham.

More pertinently, it maintained the 100 per cent record of the defending UAE Premiership champions, and broke the hearts of a courageous Dubai Exiles.

“We know we can attack from anywhere, be it their 22, our 22 – or behind our tryline – we have got that in us,” Quins coach Mike McFarlane said of his side’s stunning, last-play break to win.

“I was expecting them to have a good team having seen their results, and they proved to have an excellent platform.

“The Exiles scrum and line-out I thought was exceptional, and their back row was excellent. I think our back row will go away disappointed they didn’t enforce themselves on the game as they would have liked, and as they have through the season so far.

“Did we get out of jail? Kind of, given the timing of the scoring, but I think we did play good enough rugby to warrant it.”

Over the past decade, Harlequins have been the most consistent challengers for top honours. In the same period, their opponents here have been anything but.

This was the clearest indication, though, that the country’s oldest club are back as a real forced to be reckoned with in top flight rugby.

The UAE rugby giant may have been snoozing, but it is wide awake now.

As McFarlane pointed out, the Exiles set piece was totally dominant. With time up, they held a three-point lead, thanks to tries from Charlie Sargent and Stephen Ferguson – who was later red-carded for foul play off the ball – and the boot of DuRandt Gerber.

Dwyer’s late try, after a desperate break that had started on their own goalline, gave the home side their fourth successive win, though, after earlier scores for Sam Bolger and Chris Marshall.

“This was always going to be the big test,” said Jacques Benade, the Exiles coach.

“Maybe it was just not meant to be. The boys are working very hard. The red card maybe cost us the game. We had complete dominance at that stage.

“I’m proud of the boys. I think we are back there. Hopefully we can put this behind us, the boys will take a while to get over this, but we need to pick ourselves up quick.”

Jebel Ali Dragons got their first win of the season as they beat Al Ain Amblers 46-15, while Abu Dhabi Saracens won 35-16 against Dubai Hurricanes.


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