The battle scars of a tough season are starting to show for Dubai Exiles, who were forced to field a 16-year-old schoolboy in their defeat to Gulf Top Six title-chasing Jebel Ali Dragons on Friday night.
Janneman Venter, the son of the Exiles coach Jan, is one of the most highly rated young prospects in Arabian Gulf rugby, but does not turn 17 until next month.
Given that he was one of a variety of extras drafted in to quell an availability crisis, the Exiles were proud to hold the Dragons to just a nine-point losing deficit
"We had 10 front-line players out injured," said Venter Sr, whose plucky side went down 36-27. "But the guys stepped up and this was a club effort."
Victory consolidated the second-place position of the Dragons, the UAE Premiership champions, with two games still to play against Abu Dhabi Harlequins, the leaders.
"It is a much-improved Exiles team and it was a real battle, but our boys dug in and it was a super effort from 1 to 20," said Paul Hart, the Dragons captain.
"We needed the bonus point, which we got, and now it is all about next week." That would be when they face a top-of-the-table clash at Abu Dhabi.
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