Abu Dhabi Harlequins aim to ‘put the wrongs right’ when they face Jebel Ali Dragons

Mike McFarlane, the Harlequins coach, said his side were livid after a 29-16 loss in Doha last weekend ended their unbeaten streak at 12 matches in all XVs rugby this season.
Abu Dhabi Harlequins, in red, green and white tops, take on Jebel Ali Dragons on Friday, February 24, 2017. Ravindranath K / The National
Abu Dhabi Harlequins, in red, green and white tops, take on Jebel Ali Dragons on Friday, February 24, 2017. Ravindranath K / The National

DUBAI // Abu Dhabi Harlequins want to right the wrongs of their first defeat of the season at the earliest opportunity, when they host Jebel Ali Dragons on Friday afternoon.

Mike McFarlane, the Harlequins coach, said his side were livid after a 29-16 loss in Doha last weekend ended their unbeaten streak at 12 matches in all XVs rugby this season.

The loss is likely to matter little to the overall picture.

The league leaders are already assured of a place in the end-of-season UAE Premiership final, and are well placed to secure a home semi-final in the West Asia play-offs, too.

However, McFarlane said his players were disappointed to let their standards drop in Qatar.

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“Doha are a strong team, but we were poor,” said McFarlane, whose side also went unbeaten through the sevens season at the end of 2016.

“It was an anomaly. It is lucky we didn’t have a two-week break after that.

“The lads would have been angry, but now they have a chance to put the wrongs to right.”

Today’s match is a precursor for the UAE Premiership final, on April 7, and it could be the first of three matches in six weeks between the two familiar rivals. As it stands, Harlequins and Dragons will be pitted together in the semi-finals of the play-offs.

“This game for us is more about getting back to our standards, and we are very much concentrating on ourselves,” McFarlane said.

“They will bring a threat, but we will take it on in an aggressive nature as we would with any game.”

Ross Samson, the Dragons captain, will not feature this afternoon as he is still two weeks away from regaining fitness after a hamstring injury.

He said his team are happy to be almost assured of a play-off place.

Having beaten Dubai Exiles last weekend, they need five points from their remaining three matches to be sure of a place.

“There have been games we know we should have won, but when we look at the league table we are still sitting reasonably pretty,” Samson said.

“After a really, really bad year last year, I think a few of us were thinking of hanging up the boots.

“All our aim was to get to the play-offs.

“We are almost there, so we are delighted to be in this position, but now we will take each game as it comes.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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Published: February 23, 2017 04:00 AM

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