Match Report – Bahrain 19 vs Dubai Exiles 11, 16th Feb 2018
Top of the table Dubai Exiles came to Bahrain on Friday night as heavy favourites after beating Jebel Ali the week prior. But Bahrain 1st team had other plans and put in a brave performance in front of a buoyant home crowd beating Exiles 19-11.
Bahrain knew it was a do or die match for their West Asia Premiership campaign title hopes. A loss would have put them too far behind the leaders of the pack. That do or die attitude showed in abundance from the first whistle where Bahrain XV flew into everything for 80 minutes. Exiles being the much bigger side came to Bahrain with a clear game plan, to play the corners, use their big pack to scrum and maul and use their impressive 10 Durandt Gerber to kick the points. This was apparent from their first lineout drive where Gerber hit the post off an early drop goal attempt.
Bahrain worked their way up the field with some great defence and got a foothold in the Exiles half with a scrum on the right hand side. A great two wave attack saw Luke Radley breaking the line and offloading to Jon Kenny who took the ball close to the line. Some great patience and great runs from the Bahrain forwards saw captain Adam Wallace put a simple pass to Iwan Phillips into the corner for his 5th try of the season – Bahrain 5 – 0.
A further phase of pressure from the Bahrain defence won them a penalty which Luke Radley kicked into the corner for the lineout. A messy lineout by Bahrain was snapped up by Man of the Match Rhys Fitzgerald who scored perhaps the easiest try of his career. Bahrain 10-0.
The impressive Exiles captain and 10 Gerber had an off day with the boot but kicked one out of three penalties making the half time score Bahrain 10 – Exiles 3. Talk from the Bahrain changing room was about being a little smarter with the ball and being more efficient in their Lineout and in their kicking strategy. However neither of these areas improved significantly in the 2nd half perhaps due to pressure and this stopped Bahrain from really imposing themselves on the scoresheet in the 2nd half. Some good periods of attack in the Exile 22 ensured that Bahrain came away with crucial points each time by the boot of Luke Radley. A devastating break and try from the Exiles scrum half brought them back into the match late on, but the Bahrain character and determination shone through and ensured they took the spoils and most importantly denied Exiles of a losing bonus point which could prove massively important in the run in.
Bahrain are now only 4 points off the top of the league with 3 rounds to go. It’s all to play for and this win puts them in a great position to fight for a home semi final of the West Asia Cup, to do this they must finish in the top 2.
Bahrain host Dubai Hurricanes next Friday 23rd at 5pm and this is also now a crucial match for their title hopes.
Photos by Jodie Baker Photography