A brilliant interception try from Joe Cooper earned Jebel Ali Dragons a scintillating 26-23 victory against Bahrain in the top of the table clash in the West Asia Premiership Friday night.
The late drama was completed by the visitors scoring right at the death to ensure a thrilling end to a titanic tussle which the away side led 15-9 at the interval.
Victory for Dragons saw Henry Paul’s side maintain their lead at the top of the pile, although Bahrain;’s maiden defeat sees them leapfrogged in second by Abu Dhabi Harlequins – who thrashed Dubai Eagles 74-8 in the capital.
That now sets up another huge clash at Zayed Sports City next week as Quins host Dragons.
Cooper’s interception, on Dragons’ own line as Bahrain – who saw a try disallowed – proved decisive in triumph, with Louie Tonkin’s men at least able to console themselves with a losing bonus point.
“Both teams were very rusty,” said Tonkin, who saw his side cross through Jon Kenny, Terence Tantoh and Alastair Crombie, while Iwan Phillips kicked the rest.
In Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, it was a case of capital punishment for Eagles, with their skipper Conor Coakley admitting they were taught a “sore lesson” by Mike McFarlane’s men.
“We started really well for the first 20 or 30 minutes,” said the Irishman, whose side opened the scoring with a penalty followed by a try.
“We started really well for the first 20 or 30 minutes but then they just jumped on any small mistake we made and scored. They were much fitter… they look like they’ve worked hard in the gym and on their conditioning, while the long break has affected us.
“Our match fitness and conditioning has suffered and I don’t think as individuals we put the work in to keep our fitness levels up.”
It’s a lesson Coakley insists the fledgling Eagles will learn from though.
“We learned a hard lesson today on where we need to be to compete for 80 minutes,” he added.
“But we will take it on the chin, learn a lesson, and put the work in. We will bounce back. We know we are far better than how we played today.
“Abu Dhabi were excellent. They were clinical and deserved that scoreline.”
In the other game of the weekend, Dubai Exiles v Abu Dhabi Saracens was called off after the capital city side forfeited.
Know more about Sport360 Application