x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arabian Gulf turn in their best-ever performance

The Arabian Gulf produced "the perfect performance" on their way to a seventh-place finish at the Singapore Cricket Club International Sevens.

The Arabian Gulf produced "the perfect performance" on their way to a seventh-place finish at the Singapore Cricket Club International Sevens yesterday. In beating the prominent Western Australian side Palmyra 43-0 in the last 16, the Gulf's part-timers produced their finest display yet, according to the coach, Mike Lunjevich. He said: "That game was by far the best sevens performance since this side started playing together.

"It was perfect. We denied them the ball, we muscled up and made our tackles. They only had the ball for around two minutes out of the 14, we had it the rest of the time and that is why we won 43-0. "They are a good side and beat us by 30 points last year, so we were pretty happy to put 43 on them this time." The Gulf were eventually beaten 26-0 at the quarter-final stage by Ponsonby, one of New Zealand's top club sides.

With less than a month to go until the Gulf face the full New Zealand sevens team in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, Lunjevich is cheered by the signs of improvement in his side. "They just realised at half-time against Ponsonby that they are not far off," he said. "The second-half was a big improvement, and they were upset with themselves to let that game get away. Ponsonby have been Auckland club champions for eight years in a row, so we know they are a very good side.

"Our guys haven't been exposed to top-level rugby very often, so this is the only way we can improve. They have more experience now. I am happy to finish seventh out of the 24 teams." South Africa were the eventual champions in Singapore. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae