Dubai Hurricanes retained their West Asia Trophy title but not without being given an almighty scare by Dubai Eagles, who again proved how far they’ve come in their debut campaign as they battled to a 31-22 defeat at The Sevens.
In a series of close games with Canes this season, the nine-point defeat was the smallest margin in the three clashes between the sides this term. Canes won both West Asia Premiership clashes 28-12 and 36-23 and it might have been a different story in the final, but for a length of the field try scored by Mike Wernham’s men with 10 minutes left after Eagles fly-half Sean Carey had narrowly missed a kick at goal that would have given his side the lead.
Eagles have lost three games to Canes by a total margin of 95-57. Wernham praised Carey and Co and admitted Canes underestimated the debutants before kick-off.
“Fair play to Eagles, they’ve come on a lot and have improved enormously over the season,” said the Canes coach.
“We were confident going into the game and thought we were going to win comfortably. That didn’t happen and all credit to Eagles. It was that period 10 minutes into the second half where we thought the job was done and we got a bit lazy.”
Canes roared into a 14-point lead following three tries at the break, but they let their guard down as Eagles stormed back to within a few points in the second half – before the breakaway score.
“The game was the story of the season really,” added Wernham.
“We got back in it with a try after Eagles got an early lead. We blew them away with three tries then. But our structure didn’t work for us, we conceded 12 points for them to bring themselves right back into it, before we had a bit too much for them in the end.
“It’s always good to finish the season with some silverware, albeit it we didn’t really want to be in this final. We had some honest words at the end about next season but that’s for another time. It’s pleasing to get a trophy and good to see the back of a long hard season.”
Despite another agonisingly close defeat, Eagles captain Conor Coakley was left immensely happy at the final whistle.
“I’m very proud of the boys,” said the Irishman, who foresees a bright future for UAE rugby’s newest team.
“To see how far we’ve come since last September, it’s amazing. And it’s the same core group of players the whole way through the season. We’re going to get to the top soon.”
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