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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Dubai Sports City Eagles 'get the monkey off the back' after securing first win in West Asia Premiership

Beat Abu Dhabi Saracens 17-11 at Sports City on Friday night while Abu Dhabi Harlequins remain unbeaten after tough win in Bahrain

Dubai Sports City Eagles beat Abu Dhabi Saracens 17-11 in the West Asia Premiership on Friday. Reem Mohammed / The National
Dubai Sports City Eagles beat Abu Dhabi Saracens 17-11 in the West Asia Premiership on Friday. Reem Mohammed / The National

Sean Carey, the director of rugby at Dubai Sports City Eagles, said his side might have to revise their expectations for their debut West Asia Premiership campaign, after an opening win against Abu Dhabi Saracens.

The Eagles only had their first training session around six weeks ago, ahead of a maiden season pitched directly into regional rugby’s top flight.

They set out with the goal of becoming the country’s leading club within five years, but were under no illusions about the size of the task ahead of them.

The target for the first season was “one or two” wins. They achieved the first of those on just their second competitive outing.

However, they are not about to get carried away by the 17-11 win over Saracens at Sports City on Friday night.

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“I think now we will look at it again, and try to crack on and improve,” Carey said.

“That was only the third game we have had, and I think every time we have come on tremendously.

“The break next week gives us time to regroup, look at the video, and assess where we are at. It is positive for the season, but we are not getting carried away.

“It is good to the win, and get the monkey off the back rather than spend the season chasing it.”

The Eagles had suffered a rude awakening seven days earlier when they were thrashed 85-8 by Dubai Exiles on the competitive bow.

That result was given context, though, when the Exiles, who were double-winners two seasons ago, beat Dubai Hurricanes, one of the city’s most established clubs, 40-7 on Thursday night.

“That result against Canes goes to show that Exiles are a level above,” Carey said.

“When people saw that result, I was getting messages from people saying, ‘Oh, right, it doesn’t look as bad for you because Exiles look very strong this year’.”

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Abu Dhabi Harlequins remain undefeated after four competitive matches so far this season.

Remarkably, they have a positive points differential of just five over the course of those matches.

A four-point win over Bahrain, followed by a draw in Kandy, was enough to secure them the first title of the new season, the Western Clubs Champions League.

They followed up a one-point win away to Jebel Ali Dragons on the opening day of their Premiership title defence with a 15-15 draw in Bahrain on Friday.

It was the fourth time in the space of eight competitive matches the side had met, and Mike McFarlane, the Harlequins coach, was delighted to return from Bahrain unbeaten.

“We have had four tough games, and Bahrain is the hardest place to go in the league,” McFarlane said.

“We are chuffed with a draw. The standard of the league is excellent. There are at least four big, big teams, so to get a win and a draw from away games against two of them is fantastic.

“We have physical resilience, which you expect of the players, but also the mental resilience to be able to dog out results.”