Saracens ‘stick together’ and win Abu Dhabi rugby derby over Harlequins

Amith Passela reports on Abu Dhabi Saracens upsetting the in-form Abu Dhabi Harlequins on Friday night to end their rivals' unbeaten West Asia Championship run.

ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi Saracens not only won the bragging rights over Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the derby, but ended their rivals’ undefeated run in the West Asia Championship.

Jean Boates, the strapping Saracens captain and No 8, led from the front with two superb tries in the resounding 25-10 win Friday night at the Al Ghazal Golf Club pitch.

“I feel very proud of our boys,” the South African said.

“We have been working hard. We went through a tough three-to-four weeks to put up a performance like this. It’s just overwhelming.”

The Harlequins took the field undefeated in five games and were the obvious favourites against opponents who had just one victory in three games.

“I said at the start of the week we don’t want to focus too much on them but focus on ourselves and play for ourselves,” Boates said.

“Part of it probably was because of a derby game, but on the other hand we said at the start of the week we had to put in some hard work for a result like this.

“The boys went out there and played as a team today. That speaks to ourselves when we stick together. It was a good game to watch and very physical. It was always a big challenge against the Harlequins.”

Boates led the forwards by example to dominate the line-outs and the scrums for their second win in the competition.

“They were very good at the front in the first half, but we went out there and stuck it out through 80 minutes,” Boates said.

“There were parts of the game where they kept on coming at us and at one point they had a few kicks in front of the posts but they couldn’t capitalise.”

On his own performance, Boates added: “It’s not often you get to score two tries. I just thought I should keep my head calm and not let the occasion get me.”

Saracens opened the scoring when Boates rolled over to touch down off a maul after winning a lineout. Steve Hamilton added the extra points from mid right.

Harlequins hit back to level the scores at half-time. Willie Umu broke through the clutches of two Saracen players to touch down and Luke Stevenson was on target with the conversion.

Hamilton gave Saracens the lead with a 35-metre penalty only to see Matt Smith put over one at the other end.

Then came the decisive moment for Saracens. Boates barged over after a series of forwards moves on the Harlequins 10-metre line, and then Siphato Qinsile, the blind-side flanker who came on as a substitute, went over.

Hamilton was successful with the first conversion and then rounded off the victory with a superb 40-yard penalty.

Stevenson revealed the somber mood at the Harlequins camp, saying it was one of their worst performances in the season.

“We started well but went away from our game plan. We just couldn’t turn it on today,” said the Harlequins fly half. “Next week we are travelling to Doha and we’ll see if we can pull it back.”

In another game at the Sevens grounds in Dubai, Jebel Ali Dragons edged out Dubai Hurricanes 17-12 for their third win in five matches in the competition.

apassela@thenational.ae

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