DUBAI // The country's first independent rugby league club will get the chance to play for the sport's first domestic trophy after Mana Dubai beat Dubai Wasps at Sports City last night.
The 32-28 win means Mana will meet Abu Dhabi Harlequins, one of the UAE's most powerful union clubs, in the final of the Rugby League Cup in Al Ain in two weeks time.
They were indebted to two late tries by Ian Overton, the Jebel Ali Dragons union winger who had been drafted in for this fixture, to drag them over the winning line.
Not long before they had appeared totally out of the encounter after Wasps ran in five unanswered tries to hold a 24-10 lead.
"Abu Dhabi are a strong side and it will be a tough test," said Steve Emm, the Mana coach.
"I just hope the guys can take how they played in the last 10 minutes, with that basic rugby, into the final in two weeks' time and turn it around."
The final will be a rematch from the opening day of the season, when the Harlequins comprehensively beat the newly assembled Mana side.
However, Emm insists his side of newcomers to the 13-man code have improved considerably since that opening day 40-6 loss.
"It is a good effort from our players to lose the first game and come back and win the second," Emm said.
"We have had a little bit of time to get a bit of structure and you can see that our ball control is a lot better now.
"We are still a little bit inexperienced but you can't take anything away from them after they came back from four tries behind.
"That showed great character and that is all you can ask for as a coach."
Harlequins gave graphic evidence that they remain the team to beat in the first season of the Rugby League Cup after they defeated the Al Ain Amblers 54-12 on Thursday evening.
Ben Bolger was predictably to the fore, scoring two tries for the capital club.
However, the Abu Dhabi side will be most cheered by another strong showing by their young league novices, with Iziq Foa'i, Mathieu Brignoen and MacMillan Chiwa all helping themselves to more tries.