Two of UAE rugby's upstart clubs duel for success, with the Dubai Wasps travelling to Qatar for what they expect to be a tough match, and the Abu Dhabi Saracens playing Muscat with their eyes at the top of the table. Paul Radley reports.
Dubai Wasps know Gulf Conference success is within reach
DUBAI //Two clubs who have been agitating to join UAE rugby's elite this season will vie with each other to end the campaign with the Gulf Conference trophy on Friday.
The Dubai Wasps, who might have been playing in the top-flight Gulf Top Six now were it not for a defeat in the final round of the UAE Premiership before Christmas, hold a single-point cushion over the Abu Dhabi Saracens ahead of this afternoon's finale.
They know that a bonus point win over Doha's second string in Qatar today would guarantee them the Conference title ahead of the side from the capital.
"If we stick to the game plan, and the bounce of the ball goes our way, then we'll come home with a win," said Laurence Parker, the Wasps coach.
When the season started, the Wasps, a club formed just three seasons ago, looked as though they were about to usurp one of the UAE's longest established clubs and become one of the domestic game's leading clubs.
They beat the troubled Dubai Exiles on the opening day of the 2012/13 season. Even though they subsequently missed out on a place in the top flight, they believe they have enjoyed a season of progress.
"Dubai Wasps has seen a great deal of growth this season, in playing members and reputation," said Craig Gibson, the club's hooker-come-chairman.
"We continue to grow in depth and experience, and everyone is working hard to mark an excellent season in Gulf rugby by securing the Conference, although we expect a very tough match in Qatar."
Their rivals for the title from Abu Dhabi travel to Muscat today.
Like the Wasps, the Saracens have been attempting to challenge a long-held monopoly their well-established neighbours have had in the sport on their patch.
If they do bridge the deficit to leapfrog the Wasps and steal first place in the Conference, it would be a maiden trophy for the two-year-old club.
"We would be absolutely delighted to win our first silverware in only our second season, which is also our first season in the first division," said Steve Arnott, the club's chairman.
"To finish the season on a high will help the momentum of Saracens to continue growing.
"During the off-season we will be moving to a new ground with our own social facility, being built right in the heart of Abu Dhabi.
"Having said that, we are expecting to come up against a very strong Muscat home team so we are taking nothing for granted."
Final day fixtures
Doha v Dubai Wasps
Muscat v Abu Dhabi Saracens
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