DUBAI // Luke Sinclair, the Arabian Gulf fly-half, corrected his errant radar in time to land a last-minute touchline conversion to give Dubai Exiles victory over the Hurricanes in a bruising start to the Gulf Premiership season. Ori Lesslau capped a fine individual display on the right wing by touching down a dramatic late try, his second of the game, giving Sinclair the chance to seal a 17-16 fight-back win for the Exiles.
The Hurricanes were down to 13 men at the time, with the Gulf forward Steve Huber in the sin-bin and Duncan Murray, the influential centre, sent off for a spear-tackle on Sinclair. It was a mixed evening for the Queensland-raised No 10. He set up Lesslau's opening score with a jinking run as Exiles asserted control early on, but was awry with the boot and even went to the sin-bin in the second half.
The Exiles coach, Wayne Marsters, said: "Luke had a mixed game, but he is always cool under pressure. "I was happy with the result and the set-piece, which I thought we controlled, but we went off the game-plan for 30 minutes in the middle, which was frustrating. "We should have had two more tries early on but wasted good chances, and did pretty well to come back from 16-5 to win in the end. "We will get a better gauge of where we are at, with regards to our opposition, when we play the champions Abu Dhabi [Marsters' former team] next week."
The Hurricanes have made a miserable start to the season, which followed the resignation of their coach, Steve Holohan, in the summer. They were comprehensively beaten by Abu Dhabi in the Gulf Cup on the first weekend of the campaign. Now their problems have been further compounded by the sending off of Murray, their creative spark, who is almost certain to be handed a suspension. The third Dubai club gunning for the Premiership crown, the Dragons, laid down their marker with a 36-21 success at Muscat.
The lengthy round trip and an early 10-0 deficit could not thwart Trent Eastgate's side, for whom Ed Talbot, Angus King and Andy Murray were among the try-scorers. The teenage brothers Duncan and Charles Yates were to the fore as Toa Dubai broke the resistance of Al Ain Tumblers to claim a 26-13 win on their Emirates League bow. Duncan, a 17-year-old Wellington schoolboy, scored his first try for the region's newest club on debut, with Amir Mohammed touching down twice and Rama Chand getting the other.
"We were under the pump for the first 20 minutes against a very solid side but we came right either side of half-time," said the Toa captain, John Mamea-Wilson. Dubai Frogs kicked off their Emirates League campaign with a 27-11 win over the Hurricanes' second string, while Abu Dhabi Harlquins' back-up side shared a 5-5 draw with Dragons' second XV. @Email:email@example.com