DUBAI // The Dubai Exiles evoked memories of their glorious past on Friday night with a first win in the Gulf Top Six, prompted by two players who were still in primary school when the city's oldest club were last considered its premier force.
Michael Stubbs and Michael Sole, two richly talented young players who have caught the eye of the UAE selectors with their form this term, laid the platform for a thrilling 26-25 win over Doha at The Sevens.
Stubbs, the speedy Exiles wing, scored two tries.
Sole, the gifted inside-centre, added another, before Pieter Matthews clinched an eagerly awaited triumph in the game's final play.
The win will have been a satisfying tonic for Jan Venter's entertaining young side, who had barely merited a record of six straight defeats in this competition before Friday.
One significant by-product of the Exiles win is that it will most likely ensure an all-UAE finale in the end-of-season play-off to decide the top side in West Asian rugby.
The Abu Dhabi Harlequins have one foot in that final already, while the Jebel Ali Dragons gave themselves breathing space in second place by beating the Dubai Hurricanes 24-12 at the Centre of Excellence.
Two tries from Andrew Carpin, plus further scores from Karl Green and Andy Marshall ensured a valuable bonus point success for the home side.
"It wasn't anything showy, but we got the job done," said Tim Fletcher, the Dragons fly-half.
"We didn't have all that much possession, but when we did we scored points. We gutsed it out in defence and just did enough."
The Dragons players had to endure a few home truths in the week since their 16-5 defeat to the Harlequins, and Paul Hart, their captain, was happy with the way they responded.
"We needed to put a lot of things right after last week and we were actually really pleased with this performance," the lock forward said.
"Whenever you get a bonus-point win against a side as good as the Hurricanes you take a lot of pleasure from it."
Defeat for the Hurricanes was the latest underwhelming feature of a season they are looking forward to consigning to the bin marked "experience".
And while it may not have added up to much of substance collectively, at least a variety of their players were able to further press their claims for UAE selection.
Chris Burch, the player-coach who is still nursing a knee ligament injury, scored the opener for the away side.
Duncan Murray, who, along with his colleagues in the Hurricanes midfield - Burch and Harry Woods - is eyeing a place in the Asian Five Nation squad, also touched down.
"We have a strong back line, but so do the Dragons and if you miss a tackle, they are through," Burch said.
"If you hand the ball over to them, it is 'good night'. It is about chilling the top two inches and not throwing 50-50 balls."
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