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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Dubai Exiles' depth pleases coach after opening Premiership win against Eagles

Exiles begin West Asia Premiership campaign with 12-try rout of newcomers from Dubai Sports City

New boys Dubai Sports City Eagles, in green, endured a difficult start to their Premiership campaign against Dubai Exiles. Reem Mohammed / The National
New boys Dubai Sports City Eagles, in green, endured a difficult start to their Premiership campaign against Dubai Exiles. Reem Mohammed / The National

Dubai Exiles laid down a marker about their intentions of regaining their West Asia Premiership title, with a 12-try rout of newcomers Dubai Sports City Eagles.

Jaen Botes, the summer signing from Abu Dhabi Saracens, scored a hat-trick of tries, after a dominant display by the pack of the Exiles, who won the title two seasons ago.

Fellow new recruit, and one time Saracen, Gio Fourie touched down twice on debut, as did the outstanding Tomas Sackmann.

Knowing where to benchmark the victory against an Eagles side making their competitive bow is difficult.

But Jacques Benade, the Exiles coach, was happy with what he saw from his side.

“I thought our structure was very good,” Benade said. “We didn’t get isolated boys, we kept our balance how we want to play, and that was important.

“It can easily become about individuals when you go 40 or 50 points up. But I thought as a team we were very focused on what we want to do.

“I think everyone could see what type of rugby we want to play. We have a big pack. We need to dominate there and use them, and earn the right to go outside. I thought we did that really well.”

Benade believes his squad has greater depth than last season, when they slipped to mid-table following the double success of the previous campaign.

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On the evidence of their first hit out of the new season, their title challenge will be built on a powerful forward pack.

“I think we are stronger in depth this year, our squad is bigger than it was last year,” Benade said.

“We had to work hard last year to get the boys back to that level, but you can see those players are more comfortable on the ball, perhaps more comfortable in this league.

“We were delighted having an easier game to start with. It would have been harder going into a Harlequins game straight away.”

Despite their chastening debut, Josh Ives, the Eagles scrum-half, said there is plenty of optimism around the new club.

“For today, it was about set piece," Ives said. "If you don’t win that, you are never going to get a platform to build on.

“But in terms of the lads having that excitement, it is there. You can see the passion, the players are willing to get off the line, the willingness is there to do it. We just have to keep gelling.”