Jaen Botes urges UAE to 'step up a level' against Thailand in Asia Rugby Championship Division 2 final

Jaen Botes scored four tries while Saki Naisau crossed the whitewash three times as UAE run out 82-7 winners in Thailand

UAE v Guam in action. Courtesy Asia Rugby
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Jaen Botes says the UAE are already focused on Saturday’s Asia Rugby Championship Division 2 final against Thailand, having made a spectacular return to competitive rugby on Wednesday following a two-year break.

The national team thrashed Guam 82-7 in their semi-final on Wednesday, in their first official assignment since playing in Division 1 of Asian rugby in 2017.

They scored 12 tries in all, with Botes, the Dubai Exiles No 8, leading the way with a personal haul of four.

Saki Naisau, the Dubai Hurricanes centre, also scored a hat-trick, and might have had a number of others himself.

Naisau opted to pass to Kini Natuna despite being past the tryline himself, having earlier set up his Fijian compatriot for the first of his two tries.

Hamish Anderson, Ed Armitage and Matt Richards – who had earlier had a try chalked off – completed the rout.

Luke Stevenson, the UAE captain, missed just one of his 11 shots at goal as he helped himself to 22 points from the kicking tee.

“It was a hard shift, and we found it hard to get a second breath in that first half,” Botes said.“We tried to stick to our structure, and had a get together at half-time to say we needed to revert back to what we have been training for over the past six weeks.

“It didn’t sink in that I’d scored four tries. I wasn’t thinking about my performance, I was trying to put an emphasis on what has been drilled into us in training.

“In all honesty, I think the boys can step up to the next level. We know that Saturday against Thailand will not be an easy shift. We all have our feet on the ground.”

The UAE were able to get a glimpse of what faces them this weekend. Thailand’s match against Kazakhstan followed immediately on from the conclusion of the UAE match, on the same field in Hua Hin.

No 76-ranked Thailand were giving away 14 places in the World Rugby standings to the Kazakhs, but they beat their guests 35-20.

UAE, who are world ranked 70, have won both their previous meetings with the Thai side, 53-22 in 2015, and 70-18 a year later.

However, Botes says he and his teammates are focused solely on what lies ahead, not what has gone before.

“We have good management behind us, believing in us, so it is up to us just to do the work,” Botes said.

“We are excited for Saturday. We will enjoy the moment today, and will just revert back to what we have done on the training ground, and look to get ahead.

“We are all excited but we all have our feet on the ground and are looking forward to going again on Saturday.”