Dubai Exiles coach Jacques Benade admits things have not gone his side’s way in the early part of the new season – but he is not making any excuses for their patchy start.
Exiles – UAE Premiership and Dubai Sevens champions last term – occupy third spot in the West Asia Premiership and with only Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Bahrain five and four points ahead of them respectively, things could be worse.
A narrow 20-14 defeat to out of sorts champions Jebel Ali Dragons on opening night was followed by three wins on the trot – including a home victory over Bahrain – but they crashed to a 44-20 defeat by Quins at The Sevens last Friday.
A lengthy injury list and several absences haven’t helped Benade’s cause, but the South African is refusing to take the easy way out.
“It’s been a difficult season so far with the amount of injuries and players again not available due to work commitments, but we just need to work hard and stay positive,” said Benade.
“I don’t think the holiday/half term was good for us but no excuses. Harlequins were just better on the day last week.
“Quins were strong in the set-piece and put us under pressure. The backs just had a terrible first 20 minutes in that we just couldn’t hold on to the ball. Silly, basic errors in catching and passing, silly offloads and just not being patient enough to play another phase and get Quins to make some tackles.
“At 17-6 down with a minute to go before a very poor first half ended I thought we were still good enough to come back in the second but another error, turnover and a seven pointer to go in at half-time 24-6 down was just too big a gap to chase down.
“We played better rugby in the second half and kept the ball better and scored a brilliant try to make it 34-20 and push for a bonus point. It was not to be as we again forced an offload and Quins scored from the turnover to finish off 44-20.”
Quins overcame their own opening day defeat to reel off four straight wins to sit top of the pile. Exiles head to Jebel Ali this weekend, hoping for revenge against the champions, while they will be keeping one eye on events in Bahrain, who host Quins.
“We let ourselves down last week and are all very disappointed in our effort,” added Benade.
“Some new boys are progressing and getting better every week but it is a big two weeks coming up against Dragons and Canes. A big week this week in training for us.”
Exiles were believed to have had as many as 11 regulars out against Quins, but Benade is hopeful he will have a full complement of players by the turn of the year – with four more games to come before Christmas, including this weekend.
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