International Sky-Diving Champion, James Crossley, bagged a try
The Jebel Ali Dragons made the trip along the 311 and up the E66 to take on Dubai Exiles RFC under the Sevens Stadium‘ floodlights on Friday evening. The Dragons were looking to make amends for the 54 – 7 drubbing they received at the hands of the Dubai Tigers at Dubai Sports City the weekend before. Exiles were looking to keep their 100% record in tact.
Exiles‘ Under 19 Girls & Senior Ladies Rugby Coach, Epeli Davetawalu, opened the scoring
Anthony Kapp gives his congratulations
It was a great start to proceedings for the men-in-black. From the kick off they were immediately camped in the Jebel Ali Dragons‘ 22. The Dragons did an exceptional job of retaining possession under intense pressure beneath their own posts, until Exiles‘ scrum half and general ‘busy body’, Carel Thomas, managed to get one of his paws onto a Dragons‘ attempted pressure relieving kick. The charge down crossed the dead ball line and Dragons had a chance to open the pressure valve with a drop out from beneath their posts.
The drop out kick was gathered by Exiles‘ fullback, Conor Kennedy, who spun the ball infield to one of four 18 year olds in the evening’s Exiles‘ lineup. Marcus Kruger moved the ball onto his brother, Hannes Kruger, who was promptly introduced to the Pitch 7 turf via a shuddering Dragons tackle. The ball was quickly recycled infield for Kenyan centre, Brad Owako, to steamroller his way over the first Dragons‘ defender, who was certainly left dazed and confused as play continued around him. As the Exiles‘ play swept to the left it needed a Dragons‘ infringement at a ruck to bring some rest-bite to the onslaught. Quick thinking and a quick penalty from Carel Thomas released Exiles‘ back row, Epeli Davetawalu, to go on one of his signature rampaging runs and score under the posts. Converted by eighteen year old Marcus Kruger. 7 – 0 to Exiles.
The Jebel Ali Dragons have a chat about the opening try under the Sevens Stadium‘s floodlights
Like a London Bus, once the first score appeared, the next one turned up at almost the same time. Alfie Wilson had enjoyed himself earlier in the in the week in the UAE Division 1 match against ‘Punchy McPunchface‘ and the Abu Dhabi Saracens. The 18 year old finished off an absolute belter of a try against the visiting Abu Dhabi outfit and promptly earned a call up from Exiles‘ Director of Rugby, Jacques Benade, to the Premiership squad.
The Jebel Ali Dragons had knocked on the restart and from the resulting scrum the Exiles‘ pack went on the rampage, carrying hard and ‘heavy’ into the Dragons‘ defensive line. A couple of rucks and the ball was spread wide for young Alfie Wilson to light his afterburners and leave the Dragons‘ cover defense in his wake. 12 – 0 to Exiles. Seven minutes on the game clock.
For the Jebel Ali Dragons, alarm bells must have been ringing. Their line was being broken almost at will and the Exiles were getting across the gain line with consummate ease. But, funny things happen when a team is dominating their opposition so easily, the Exiles were definitely guilty of taking their foot off the Dragons‘ windpipe and in a match where the referee was keen to blow the whistle the game as a spectacle began to wane.
It was almost 20 minutes before the next score appeared, and this time it was from the Dragons, a simple penalty in the Exiles 22 and the Dragons had something to show on the scoreboard. 12 – 3 to Exiles.
Try scorer Alfie Wilson gets to grips with a Dragons’ player
Unfortunately for the spectators gathered in the Exiles‘ Clubhouse to enjoy the match on this particular Friday evening, the referee’s whistle had made the game become a just a little bit stop / start. Exiles would attack, a penalty would be given away, the Dragons‘ fly half, who possessed a siege gun of a boot, would send the Exiles back in to their own 22 and then the process would restart.
It was the Exiles who did have the final word of the first half. After the barnstorming start and being 12 – 0 up in the first seven minutes, the next Exiles‘ score came almost at the death of the first 40 minutes. The Dragons had given a penalty away just on their own 22 meter line and Carel Thomas had again taken a quick one and made 15 meters before finally being brought to a stop under the Dragon’s posts.
A series of pick and goes under the posts and just as the referee, James Fairbourn, raised his arm to signal a penalty advantage, Exiles‘ second row, Stephen ‘Stavo’ Ferguson crashed over to score. 17 – 3 to Exiles. Half Time.
Dave Gairn goes hunting Dragons
Anthony Kapp takes the direct approach
Matt Mills carried extremely well and had a great game
The Dragons were the first to rattle the scoreboard in the second half. A soft penalty given away by the Exiles in their own 22 and it was 17 – 6, the Jebel Ali Dragons were doing their best to claw their way back into the match.
The penalty sparked the Exiles into life. Conor Kennedy had gathered a Dragons kick in his own 22 and made his way to the Exiles‘ 10m line before being brought down. Matt Mills was the next to carry into the heart of the Dragons‘ defense. The ball was recycled from the ruck and prop, Pieter Kilian, tipped a well weighted pass to back row, Anthony Kapp, who went through a very big hole in the Dragons‘ line. ‘Kappie‘ was hauled down at the edge of the Dragons‘ 22, some quick passing and another Exiles‘ teenager, Hannes Kruger, made the last two Dragons‘ defenders look silly and was over the line and under the posts. Converted by Marcus Kruger. 24 – 6 Exiles.
The Kruger brothers, Marcus and Hannes, congratulate each other
The next Exiles score was just a little fortuitous. Exiles‘ outside half, Justin Walsh, had missed touch with a penalty kick. The Dragons receiver failed to gather the ball cleanly and put his team under immense pressure in their own 22. When the referee ‘pinged’ the Dragons for holding on to the ball, Epeli Davetawalu, took a quick tap and crossed to score while carrying three Dragons‘ defenders along for the short 20 meter bus ride. Converted by Marcus Kruger. 31- 6 Exiles.
Exiles‘ Director of Rugby, Jacques Benade, made a few changes with 25 minutes left on the clock. International sky-diving champions, James Crossley, exchanged places with hard running Kenyan centre, Brad Owako, and added himself to the Exiles‘ try scorer list.
Flanker, Matt Mills, made the initial surge, blowing a big hole through the Dragons‘ line, the ball reached Epeli Davetawalu, who proved an absolute nightmare to bring to ground for the Dragons. When they eventually got enough bodies on him to halt his progress it was a simple off-load for James Crossley to score under the posts. Converted by Marcus Kruger. 38 – 6 to Exiles.
A Dragons‘ player inspects the Sevens Stadium lighting
A discussion about Netflix being a better option for a Friday evening
A discussion about something
The Dubai Exiles pretty much emptied their bench at this point. A few Exiles‘ Super Twos getting their first taste of UAE Premiership rugby.
Another penalty given away by the Dragons saw them pushed back in to their own 22. The ball was gathered in the middle of the Exiles‘ line out by Matt Mills who brought it down and gave it to Epeli Davetawalu. Epeli headed to the try line with four Dragons‘ defenders looking totally disinterested in trying to stop him and crossed for his third try of the match. Converted by Justin Walsh. 45 – 6 to Exiles.
The Dragons did manage to get across the Exiles‘ try line a couple of times in the dying minutes. You have to give credit to them for plugging away. With the Exiles players already thinking about half term holidays and many of them heading home for a few days, the Dragons gave a little bit of respectability to the scoreboard. 45 – 16 to Exiles. Final score.
Exiles‘ Hooker, Dave Gairn, shares a joke with the Dragons‘ 9
Australian teenager, Max Hennessey, enjoyed his first UAE Premiership match
Epeli Davetawalu scored a hat-trick as predicted by his son, Ponipate, at Exiles‘ Under 8 practice
Jebel Ali Dragons
DUBAI EXILES RFC v JEBEL ALI DRAGONS
UAE Premiership (11th February 2022)