x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Quins will have to dig deep

The defending champions will fly to Bahrain with 20 players absent, as they bid to bridge the 11-point gap their hosts have built up at the top of the Prosperity Premiership.

DUBAI // The never-say-die attitude which the Abu Dhabi Harlequins pride themselves on has been put under strain by twin blows ahead of their potentially decisive trip to Bahrain today. The defending champions will fly to Manama with 20 players absent, as they bid to bridge the 11-point gap their hosts have built up at the top of the Gulf Prosperity Premiership. Allied to that, the UAE side were hit with another psychological blow earlier this week when it was decided - on the toss of a coin - the Gulf Cup final between the two sides, will also be played on Bahrain's home turf.

The three matches between the sides over the next five weekends are likely to decide where the Gulf's top trophies will end up this term. Abu Dhabi's captain, Ali Thompson, accepts that his side face an uphill task against the 13-times Arabian Gulf champions. "We have had our challenges, but we are not looking for excuses," he said. "We are confident the team we are travelling with will be strong enough to compete with Bahrain.

"We are going there for a win and we know we need it to keep our championship aspirations alive." Abu Dhabi's title-defence has faltered following recent losses to the Dubai Exiles and Dubai Hurricanes. "We always have a never-say-die attitude," added Thompson. "We have lost two games and the reality is they are 11 points ahead. "We know we not only have to do the business twice, but rely on another team in the league doing us a favour. That hasn't materialised.

"Any time you go to Bahrain you know you are not just playing against their side, but a crowd who are very vocal and passionate about their side." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae