x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

'Doha deserved victory' in West Asia play-off

The Dubai Hurricanes could not survive another late start as Doha went ahead early then held them off 24-20.

The Dubai Hurricanes, above against the Jebal Ali Dragons, could not survive another slow start in a game against Doha in a West Asia play-off.
The Dubai Hurricanes, above against the Jebal Ali Dragons, could not survive another slow start in a game against Doha in a West Asia play-off.

Given the season they have had, it was perhaps appropriate that Dubai Hurricanes finally sacrificed their title as the best side in the region on account of a slow start in Doha on Friday.

The UAE Premiership champions might as well have not been there for the first half of the domestic season, so out of sorts were they.

The same went for the opening stages of their West Asia play-off final against Doha in Qatar, as they leaked 12 points early in the game. They did manage to hit back through tries from Ollie Delapp, Greg Thompson and Chris Smith, but the early damage was too much to repair as the match ended 24-20.

The Hurricanes have been the masters of the late, late show in recent years, but it did not work this time, and they are looking to alter the habit next time around.

"Hopefully, we can start next season flying, and the boys are all pretty pumped to come back from this," said Chris Gregory, the Hurricanes captain.

There were early clues to the fact it was going to be one of those days for the Hurricanes.

The majority - though not all - of their players made it through passport control in Doha following their early morning flight, but the team kit did not.

After borrowing a playing strip from Doha's Vets side, as well as a four-hour wait before the 4pm kick-off, the travelling side struggled for early impetus.

"Getting motivated after a long wait is always difficult and we were slow out of the starting blocks," Gregory said. "Credit to Doha. They just missed out on winning the Gulf Top Six" when they were runners up to Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

"We have managed to win in the last few minutes in the last couple of years, but Doha deserve this," Gregory said. "They have been a quality team all year."

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