x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Potbellies look to expand win total

The one-match winning streak of the Arabian Potbellies will be under threat on Friday when they face up against a Toa Dubai side led by a pair of highly-rated young players.

DUBAI // The one-match winning streak of the Arabian Potbellies will be under threat on Friday when they face up against a Toa Dubai side led by a pair of highly-rated young players, fresh out of the same school as Jonah Lomu. The charitable club has much work to do to reduce the gap against Toa in Sharjah this afternoon. They went down 65-3 when they first met earlier in the season. However, the Potbellies, who take the game more seriously than their traditional hokey-cokey warm-up would suggest, have been buoyed after gaining their first victory since joining the Emirates League at the start of last season. They beat the Dubai Exiles second string 17-12 on Friday. Steve Hurley, the Potbellies captain and scrum-half, said: "I'm hoping we picked up a few things from the win over the Exiles that we can exploit against Toa. "We certainly haven't got the young legs to match them in the backs, but we do have experience. If we play a sensible game, maybe we can run in a couple of tries." Toa's back division, which already boasts much of the best young talent in Dubai, has been bolstered by the arrival of John Luteru, a centre, and Danny Tusitala, who will play at fly-half this afternoon, from Wesley College in Auckland. The school counts All Blacks such as Lomu, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Casey Laulala among its former pupils. Toa's new 18-year-old recruits have also played representative rugby within the New Zealand age-group system. Despite the youth policy - five under 19s will start in the Toa backline this afternoon - the Potbellies are likely to recognise some of the old guard. Trevor Leota, another Samoan Aucklander of great repute in the game, celebrated his 35th birthday on Monday, and will line-up at hooker. In the top division of Gulf competition, the Prosperity Premiership, Abu Dhabi Harlequins will attempt to make up lost ground on the leaders Bahrain, following two successive defeats, when they entertain Dubai Dragons. pradley@thenational.ae