Al Hilal Publishing & Marketing GroupPO Box 1100,
Kingdom of Bahrain
Click here for Contact Details
Bahrain swept away Abu Dhabi Saracens in a ruthless display of pace, physicality and skill in front of a raucous home crowd at the rugby club on Friday, writes Kristian Harrison.
It wasn’t all Bahrain in the early periods as multiple chances to score went astray in the first 15 minutes from a mixture of Bahrain error and gutsy defence from the travelling side.
Saracens were in good spirits after picking up their first West Asia Premiership win last week against rivals and newbies Dubai Eagles – but that spirit was soon to be halted after Rob Bennett finally went over from a quick tap after a long period of Bahrain pressure, with the conversion by centre Luke Radley.
After the first score Bahrain achieved three further tries from impressive fullback Deina Morete and wing Iwan Phillips from two really slick first phase possessions, something Bahrain have been working hard on since the Abu Dhabi Harlequins defeat the week prior.
Another cracker from Luke Radley assisted by a great slashing break from the returning skipper Adam Wallace saw the half time score 26-0. In the second half, Bahrain racked up a further six tries and four crucial league points were in the bag.
With Bahrain running riot the game haltered a little on the 65 minute mark where tempers flared after a dangerous tackle and with players running in from both sides the referee sent off the two outside halves with two red cards showing zero tolerance for any nonsense.
Bahrain managed to regain momentum finally and exceptional tries came from Mark Burnell, Joel Lewis, Rhys Fitzgerald, a brace from the ever present Elliot Behan (taking his try tally to five in eight games) and perhaps the most impressive of the day coming from wing Iwan Phillips with his second in the match cutting through four tacklers for a 50m solo effort.
It was great to see such a big crowd at the rugby club, even though the game was delayed by an hour due to flight delays. The Bahrain faithful stayed loyal and showed fantastic support in what was only Bahrain’s third match at home in their last 13 games.
It was a great night for the young squad with three significant players returning from injury with captain Adam Wallace making his first start for Bahrain since the champions league in Sri Lanka, Greg Heath coming off the bench for his first game in 16 weeks and Bahrain’s impressive new recruit Ross Preedy coming off the bench and making a return to action after knee surgery two years ago.
Director of rugby Louie Tonkin believes the squad is now in a good place with its biggest game of the season around the corner, Dubai Exiles next week at home in Janabiya. The Exiles secured a shocking win at table-topping Jebel Ali Dragons last weekend to leave the top spot wide open, and now Bahrain are just six points off the top with a game-in-hand.
It’s all to play for in the most exciting West Asia Premiership campaign to date!