ABU DHABI // Sam Cook and Jamie Clarke, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins flankers, combined to douse the title aspirations of Doha and make this season's Prosperity Premiership a two-horse race between themselves and Bahrain. The two loose-forwards were outstanding in the defence and at the breakdown as the reigning Gulf champions quelled a second-half fight-back from the traveling Qatar side at Al Ghazal this afternoon. Cook, the industrious blindside who was eventually named man of the match, also distinguished himself in attack, setting up the second try for Tim Harwin with a sharp break and neat offload on the left touchline. That bolstered the advantage already earned by the scrum-half Patrick Hegarty's earlier score, which was brought about by a smart interchange of passes with his half-back partner, Murray Strang.
Holding a 15-0 lead, the Quins looked comfortable at half-time. Strang knocked over a penalty after the restart and, although Doha asserted a semblance of pressure after Tom Fisher was sin-binned for a late tackle, the hosts were good value for their victory. The four points were gratefully received by the champions, who were missing their injured captain Alastair Thompson, and had not played a 15-a-side match for more than two months. Their top-of-the-table clash in Bahrain before Christmas was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, while Kuwait Nomads also pulled out of their planned fixture the previous week. Victory also maintained the capital outfit's 100 per cent record in the league, and kept up the pressure on Bahrain, with whom they were level on points ahead of this weekend's matches. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org