Jebel Ali Dragons will technically move into pole position for the West Asia Premiership title on Friday with a bonus point win over rivals Dubai Hurricanes.
A win for Jonny MacDonald and Andy Buist’s men at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence will lift them above Abu Dhabi Harlequins, who climbed back to the top following a convincing 80-0 hammering of city rivals Saracens on Thursday night.
Mike McFarlane’s men are three points ahead but have played a game more, so a maximum win for Dragons will see them go back to the top by two points.
If all goes to plan, then the battle for the title will come down to the final weekend of the season next Friday and all eyes will be on Bahrain as they host Dragons.
Quins end their season in Dubai at rock-bottom Eagles, where they will be expected to get a bonus point win. If that happens and Dragons win this Friday, only a win will do in Bahrain. A win alone will likely see them and Quins finish level at the top of the table, with a bonus point victory likely to see them crowned champions.
Quins lost 37-30 at Dubai Exiles a week ago but a penalty in the final minute earned them a losing bonus point, which added to their try-scoring bonus point in the same game, looks like it will play a vital role in the destiny of the title.
There’s still a lot of rugby left to play though and, for now, Dragons are just concentrating on Canes.
“I hope it’s blue skies and sun for us and rain for anyone else who’s playing and needs wins,” said Dragons skipper Ross Samson ahead of the Canes clash.
“It’s a local derby for us, Canes are a great bunch of boys and we always have good games against them. We just want to keep playing our brand of rugby as we are having loads of fun doing it.”
Canes know they have already secured fifth spot and coach Mike Wernham says they will try and see out the season in as professional a manner as possible.
“Complete the fixture list and continue to play with pride, that’s our aim,” said Wernham.
“We’re hoping for a good performance after narrowly losing at home with such a strong start from us. It’s the last couple of games now and we want to finish the season on a high.
“We will hope to catch Dragons off guard but know they have a lot of quality in their side. We have a couple of weeks off before the Trophy final so will be holding nothing back.”
Exiles have a bye this week and will hope to crash the title party next week when they end their season at Sarries, although the best they can hope for is a likely home West Asia Cup semi-final by finishing second.
Bahrain will go a point behind Quins with a bonus point win over Eagles at Dubai Sports City on Friday, although they too will likely be scrapping for a home semi-final even if they score maximum victories in their final two games – the last one at home to Dragons next week.
“All we can concentrate on is controlling our controllables,” said coach Louie Tonkin, whose side are currently fourth but with games in hand.
“We can’t have any control on any of the other results, it’s out of our hands so all we can focus on is performing as well as we can and get the results we can and seeing where that puts us at the end of the season.
“We respect Eagles. They came to us before Christmas and ran us close so it won’t be an easy game. We’re going to their place so we know it’ll be a tough game. But we have to go there with the mindset of getting maximum points.”
Fixtures – Friday 19:00
Dubai Eagles v Bahrain
Jebel Ali Dragons v Dubai Hurricanes
Result – Thursday
Abu Dhabi Harlequins 80 Abu Dhabi Saracens 0
West Asia Premiership table
Team P W L D PF PA BP Pts
AD Quins 11 8 2 1 464 181 8 42
JA Dragons 10 8 2 0 391 156 7 39
Dubai Exiles 11 7 4 0 398 162 10 38
Bahrain 10 7 2 1 332 149 6 36
Dubai Hurricanes 11 4 7 0 224 332 4 20
AD Saracens 11 1 9 0 70 508 1 5
Dubai Eagles 10 1 9 0 93 488 1 5
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