Dubai Exiles, ascendant again, have grasp on UAE Premiership title

Paul Radley reports from Dubai Exiles' 19-9 win over Abu Dhabi Harlequins on Friday night to all but secure the UAE Premiership championship.

Dubai Exiles 19

Abu Dhabi Harlequins 9

Exiles: Try: Leveanasiga; Con: Gerber; Pens: Gerber 4

Harlequins: Pens: Stevenson 3

Man of the match: Glenn Moore (Exiles)

DUBAI // The revival of Dubai Exiles came full circle as they all but killed off the threat of Abu Dhabi Harlequins to their chances of a trophy double.

The win was secured via a try by Vereniki Leveanasiga plus 14 points from the boot of DuRandt Gerber, amid April showers at The Sevens.

It means the Exiles will win the UAE Premiership if they avoid defeat against Al Ain Amblers, the last-placed side in the competition, next weekend.

The identity of the opposition for what probably amounted to being the Premiership decider was poignant for the Exiles.

Harlequins were the visitors back in 2012 when Mike Wolff, the club chairman, was forced to walk into their dressing room and admit Exiles had failed to raise a side for their fixture. After that 11th hour forfeit, the side pulled out of the remainder of the competition entirely.

Dubai’s oldest club was at its lowest ebb then. Now, four years on, they are officially the leading team in West Asia, and are one match away from adding the domestic title to their collection, too.

“It means a lot to the executives at the club to be here now, from where it was,” Glenn Moore, the Exiles captain, said.

“We had reports from friends sitting in the crowd against [Jebel Ali] Dragons, who overheard some of their supporters say Exiles had been the joke team for the past five years.

“They could organise nights out, and just put out half a team to play against Exiles. We beat Dragons three times this year, and it goes a long way to getting a monkey off our back.”

The Exiles players celebrated with a team photograph after the match, as though the title was already wrapped up.

Moore warned that there is still work to do against Al Ain next weekend, but he was happy to have been part of this crucial win.

The No 8 and captain had been absent when Exiles secured the West Asia Championship crown two weeks earlier.

“I was very disappointed to miss that game when the boys finished it off against Dubai Hurricanes, but this goes some way to making up for it,” Moore said.

“We felt we owed Harlequins one from earlier in the season. We felt they were a team who had a bogey over us and we wanted to go out and prove a point.”

Rory Greene, the Harlequins manager, said he was proud of the way his side had pushed their hosts, given they had a raft of absentees that even included head coach Mike McFarlane.

“There were a lot of guys who were stepping up, but we have real depth in the club,” Greene said.

“It’s not about this game. The game we lost to [Abu Dhabi] Saracens earlier in the season we should have won. I said the boys they should be proud of how they played because this was still a close, quality game.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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