x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Injuries cost Gulf dear at Al Ghazal

The Arabian Gulf coach Mike Lunjevich has a massive task on his hands in raising the level of his team after they finished at the bottom of the GPS Tri Nations Sevens at the Al Ghazal Golf Club on Saturday.

ABU DHABI // The Arabian Gulf coach Mike Lunjevich has a massive task on his hands in raising the level of his team after they finished at the bottom of the GPS Tri Nations Sevens at the Al Ghazal Golf Club on Saturday. They were outclassed by a fitter and more organised Hong Kong 26-0 and went down to Kazakhstan, who they beat 19-5 on the previous night at the Sharjah Wanderers pitch, 17-7.

"They were not as sharp as the night before," Lunjevich said. "This is because of injuries, but we realised we have some more work to do. We discovered where the areas are but, importantly, we had a lot of game time. "The teams we played are peaking because they go into the World Cup qualifiers in two weeks and we have got another six months. "We have drawn up an ambitious programme starting with the visit of the South African coach Paul Treu and his staff."

The Arabian Gulf travel to Singapore next and enter the Dubai Sevens as part that plan. Then they travel to South Africa and New Zealand for training camps. "These guys have never got such exposure and it is all due to our sponsors and the management," added Lunjevich. "We need to do that to get the players in the right frame of mind and motivate them individually." The captain Steve Cooper shared the sentiments of his coach.

"We really raised the bar in Sri Lanka in our last competition," he said "We were not too bad but we'll try to move forward from here." Hong Kong swept aside the two teams to clinch the shield for winning the tournament, but their coach Rod McIntosh was said his team played as good as he had expected. "They have been consistent, but I'm a little disappointed this weekend," he said. "We haven't lost a game and we haven't conceded a point, but the performance has been a little bit off the mark."

Hong Kong brushed aside Kazakhstan 40-0 and overcame a spirited first half from the Arabian Gulf to complete their triumph. They ran up four tries after the host team had held them for five minutes and threatened to break their defence for the first time in the competition. Hong Kong beat the Arabian Gulf 21-0 and Kazakhstan 42-0 the other night. And McIntosh believes his side will benefit from playing such games.

"We are a young squad and it was all about playing more games and the opportunity," he said. apassela@thenational.ae