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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Dubai Rugby Sevens 2018: Fifth time's a charm for Saki Naisau as Dubai Hurricanes win Gulf Men's final

Fijian, regarded by many as the leading player in Arabian Gulf rugby, has lost the past four finals at The Sevens

Dubai Hurricanes, in yellow, in action against Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the Gulf Men's league. Reem Mohammed / The National
Dubai Hurricanes, in yellow, in action against Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the Gulf Men's league. Reem Mohammed / The National

After four lost finals on Pitch 1 in the past, Saki Naisau was finally able to taste Dubai Rugby Sevens success as Dubai Hurricanes claimed Gulf Men’s League glory.

The Fijian is regarded by many as the leading player in either format in Arabian Gulf rugby. He has found a variety of agonising ways to miss out on a Dubai Sevens winner’s medal in recent years, having been a losing finalist with each of his previous clubs, Jebel Ali Dragons and Al Ain Amblers.

It goes to show his popularity that representatives from each of Dragons and Al Ain were on the sidelines cheering him on in the final, as he scored Hurricanes last try in a 24-12 win over Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

While his personal success was long overdue, it was nothing against that of his club. The Hurricanes’ fallow run at the Sevens stretches back even longer, to a time when The Sevens venue which they call home was not even built.

Hurricanes were the last champions before the old Exiles ground in Al Awir was bulldozed in 2007. This was only their second title at the competition.

“It’s an unreal feeling, not for us but for the club,” Boris Finck, the Hurricanes captain, said.

“We have been wanting this for the past two years. We came close last year, but this was our year and it is an amazing feeling.

“When we saw the teamsheet, everyone knew this was our year. We took in one game at a time, got to the final, and did the job.

“It is a surreal feeling walking out onto that pitch, not many people get to do it. It is over very, very quickly, but we are all glad to be part of it.”

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Read Paul Radley's look back on 10 years of rugby at The Sevens

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The Hurricanes squad included two 18-year-old backs, Joe Riley and Hamish Anderson, as well as a mix of nationalities.

“I can’t stress how hard it was to select that final 12, and it has been a complete 12-man, squad effort,” Mike Wernham, the Hurricanes coach, said.

“Our defence was phenomenal, but it was about the guys falling in to place, sticking to the same hymn sheet, and one to 12, they have been warriors.”

Wernham was delighted for Naisau, who was a summer recruit from Dragons, the side Hurricanes beat in a thrilling semi-final earlier in the morning.

“We have guys with some real mixed stories,” Wernham said. “For Saki, one of our talismen, that is his fifth final.

"He has lost four on the bounce. I said to him beforehand that it was fifth time lucky, that is was fate.

“Look how he plays. Yes, he is a standout player for us, but there are six guys around him, plus the guys on the bench. All 12 of them have been phenomenal all weekend.”

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Read more:

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