x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Strang show is impressive for Harlequins

Murray Strang put on a show for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins and the Jebel Ali Dragons had the best view as they chased him around their pitch in the Quins' 44-29 win.

The host Jebel Ali Dragons, in white, took it on the chin from the Abu Dhabi Harlequins 44-29.
The host Jebel Ali Dragons, in white, took it on the chin from the Abu Dhabi Harlequins 44-29.

DUBAI // Murray Strang made a compelling claim to the UAE's No 10 shirt as he piloted Abu Dhabi Harlequins to a hefty win in front of the watching Wayne Marsters, the acting national coach, Friday night.

Fly-half has been a troubled position for the national team for some time now, with a succession of players who would prefer to play in the centres having been asked to fulfil No 10 duties in recent years.

Strang's qualities are such that he has been on the representative radar almost since his Quins debut just over three seasons ago.

He completed the three-year qualification process earlier this year, but that coincided with a succession of injuries which had put his elevation to the national team in doubt.

He played for the UAE in the Asian Sevens Series, but suffered a torn hamstring on national duty.

His convalescence has been hindered by a back injury, and the Quins stand-off had played his first full 80 minutes of rugby for a year just eight days ago.

You would not have guessed it from the way he played in this Gulf Top Six encounter at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence.

He has always been well-known for having the most reliable boot in Gulf rugby.

However, yesterday's display was noteworthy for the prowess he provided in attack.

Despite the injuries, he was able to turn on the running speed, which has so surprised his UAE sevens teammates, with two second-half breaks.

"It has been a ropey year for me," Strang, a Dubai-based chartered surveyor, said.

"It has been two great games to come back in to, with a big win over the Hurricanes last week and now coming onto [the Dragons'] patch and winning.

"We scored 42 points against the current champions last week and 44 against the side who are at the top this week, so it is great."

Strang, and his half-back partner, Ed Lewsey, got some fine assistance from their loose forwards, however.

Alistair Thompson, the No 8, scored two tries, and Renier Els and Jamie Clarke were ubiquitous from the side of the scrum. If Strang has been pencilled in for the No 10 shirt, then they made a case en masse to be considered for UAE back row.

With all the key components functioning so well, the league-leading Dragons were powerless to stem the tide.

After Doha trounced the troubled holders, Dubai Hurricanes, in Qatar yesterday, this victory breathed life into Abu Dhabi's title-aspirations.

"We have gone back to doing the basics well," said Chris Davies, the director of rugby for the Harlequins.

"We have been thinking about going straight to C rather than starting at A, but we did really well tonight."