Word that Abu Dhabi Harlequins had drawn with Dubai Hurricanes filtered through to Dubai Dragons one minute before kick-off against Bahrain on Friday night. That 23-23 scoreline back in the UAE afforded the travelling Dragons a glimmer of hope and meant they must score four tries to earn championship-winning bonus points. That glimmer expanded to distinct possibility as Trent Eastgate, Vivien Albertyn and Neil McFarlane each crossed while Andrew Russell converted. "We were one try away but we started giving away penalties and they kicked themselves back in the game," said captain, James Wellings.
Five minutes from time, Russell gathered the ball and made a break. He was taken down but not before supporters, convinced he had crossed, began celebrating. "He was four metres from the line," said Wellings who will step down as captain after the birth of his daughter. "We gave away a penalty, they kicked the ball downfield and that was it. We won 21-19 but lost the championship and its fair to say we are pretty down."
Renowned for open, passing rugby, Wellings said the Dragons' style was their best asset but their biggest downfall. League leaders for the early season, the first indication that things weren't going to plan was at the beginning of last month when they squandered a 13-point lead to draw with Dubai Exiles, then lost against Abu Dhabi and Doha. "We made it hard for ourselves," acknowledged Wellings. "But we will be back next season."