Last Friday saw Bahrain RFC take their first opportunity for Silverware of the season by beating Abu Dhabi Harlequins in round 3 of the Western Clubs Champions League. A great occasion at BRFC saw a capacity crowd cheer on the Bahrain team win their first ever Champions League crown in a fiercely contested and physical match.
The game swung either way with decisions from the referee playing a big part in proceedings. Bahrain took the early initiative with some pressure in the Abu Dhabi 22 earning them a penalty and the first points of the game through impressive outside half Ross Preedy. A further period of dominance and a well worked backs move saw man of the match Jack Phillips slice through the defence for a 30m try – converted again by Ross Preedy – Bahrain led 10-0 after 15 minutes.
The Bahrain team unable to secure a high kick off gave Abu Dhabi an opportunity to score their first points through a well struck penalty by also impressive outside half Luke Stevenson, 10-3. Huge energy from both teams in open play certainly gave the crowd some excitement with some of the collisions being massive and destructive for both teams. The Bahrain team showing 9 changes from the team that beat Kandy SC in round 1 showed struggle in the scrum in the early stages and something the experienced Quins pack took advantage of. The impressive welsh tight head for the Abu Dhabi Quins Craig Nutt turning the screw in the first few scrums on their own ball. This pressure led to a scrum on the Bahrain line and after two penalties the Quins team were able to drive the Bahrain scrum over the line for their number 8 Rob Challis in uncontested for the Quins first try of the afternoon – Stevenson failed with the conversion making the score 13- 8 to Bahrain with 15 minutes to go in the first half.
Yellow cards for Abu Dhabi and Bahrain followed with Andrew Semple and Adam Wallace getting penalised and carded for foul play. The subsequent lineout saw the impressive Quins centre burst through 4 Bahrain tackles for a brilliant solo effort on the stroke of half-time putting Bahrain under real pressure at half time – Bahrain 16 – Abu Dhabi 15.
The second half was very tense all round with a masterclass of kicking from both Preedy and Stevenson dictating affairs and relieving pressure for their subsequent teams. Both their kicking from hand and at goal was extremely impressive at any level of the game. Going into the last 10 minutes of the game Bahrain led 19-18 with pressure mounting on both sides not to give any more penalties away. Pressure in the Bahrain half saw Quins take the lead for the first time in the game with a Stevenson penalty taking them 2 points ahead with 10 minutes to go.
With errors creeping in from both sides at crucial moments due to fatigue the game was very stop start and again dictated by the kickers. A great long in field kick by Preedy went over the Quins heads and a great chase saw impressive winger Dai Evans and lock Aled Morris turn over the ball at the crucial ruck – two phases of subsequent pressure saw a floated pass by Alastair Crombie fall to new boy Callum Roberts with a lot of work to do – Roberts shook off the tackle and sprinted to the line for a great try in the corner in front of the Bahrain support – the place erupted and Bahrain regained the lead – 24-21.
Huge pressure from the Quins team hammered the Bahrain line in the last 5 mins with screams of “No Pens” echoing onto the field from the sidelines. The Bahrain Redwall held strong and managed to play out of their half bravely – strong phase play breaking into the Quins half saw Bahrain get awarded another vital penalty in front of the posts. As if in any doubt Ross Preedy slotted the kick to take Bahrain out of danger making the final score 27-21 – making Preedy’s personal tally 17 points for the day and kicking 6 out of 7 kicks for the day.
This was a great win for the Bahrain side showing how strong the squad is this year – the bench really made an impact in the last 20 minutes and perhaps was the difference when it came down to it. Bahrain using 27 players in their 2 game WCCL campaign stands them in good stead for the league start where they have to travel to the Quins for the league opener at Zayed Sports City this weekend.
You can watch this weekend’s game live in from our Clubhouse at 6.00PM Bahrain Time. Or visit our Facebook Page to see the Live Stream.