x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Harlequins left with a hollow feeling

A forfeit by bottom rung Kuwait Nomads because of visa issues denies the chance to the defending champions to get some more points to their satusfaction.

DUBAI // Richard Harris, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Harlequins, was left with an overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction last night, even though his side had moved joint-top of the Prosperity Premiership. The defending champions were granted a bonus point victory over Kuwait Nomads, after the troubled Kuwaitis were unable to get a side together for the trip to the capital. Visa issues meant a variety of the Kuwait players had initially planned to fly into Dubai, then drive down to Abu Dhabi yesterday morning. However, even that plan was eventually scuppered, and they cancelled late on Thursday night. The subsequent 20-0 forfeit, coupled with Bahrain's 23-13 win over the Dragons in Dubai yesterday, took Quins level on points at the summit with the side from Manama. Harris, who also serves as the secretary of the Arabian Gulf union, said: "A situation like this is not satisfactory at all.

"We are left with a hollow feeling and also, as a club, we felt we might have put more points on a side who are at the bottom of the table had the game gone ahead. "We were robbed of that chance, and it could count against us if the league is as tight as it was last season." Kuwait are rooted to the foot of the table and, ironically, their only points of the campaign so far arrived before Christmas when the Dragons were forced to forfeit as they were unable to travel due to similar reasons.

The flagging title ambitions of the Dragons look to have been extinguished for good after they slumped to another defeat, to high-flying Bahrain. The UAE outfit had started the season well, having won December's Dubai Rugby Sevens. Yet their side at present barely resembles that which started the campaign. They were missing their captain, the injured centre Jayden Wallis and, as well as deputy Trent Eastgate marshalled the troops in his absence, they were unable to hold off the league leaders. The Bahrainis remain undefeated at the summit of the league. They were able to maintain that impressive record thanks to an outstanding performance at fly-half by Dan Bell, whose 13 point match haul included the decisive late try. The Dragons, whose task proved even more formidable when Steve Little was sent off on the stroke of half-time, earned consolation points through John Grady and Rob Pearce. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae