Last night’s clash between UAE Premiership Champions, Dubai Exiles RFC and visiting West Asia Premiership Champions, Bahrain proved to be another absolute belter of a rugby match. Anybody who’d come along to The Sevens Stadium yesterday evening was treated to an old fashioned, no quarter given and no quarter asked, thrilling game of rugby.
Exiles’ Lukas Waddington watches Jacques Benade perform a field sobriety test
Hooker, Dave Gairn, is a big fan of the can-can
Referee, Jaco de Wit, gets the game underway
When playing at home, at The Sevens Stadium, Exiles vs Bahrain matches have been extremely tight affairs. On average, over the last 4 meetings, the result has been decided by 5 points either way. What was for certain, is that any points on offer, for either side, needed to be taken.
The first opportunity for points fell to the Exiles. Flanker, Matt Mills, had been on the receiving end of a high tackle, and when referee Jaco de Wit signalled the penalty, Exiles‘ number 10, Handre Snetler, took a shot at the posts from 42 metres out. Unfortunately the long-shot drifted left of the posts and the scoreboard remained blank.
Matt Mills gets a Trebanos scrum cap in the face
Referee, Jaco de Wit, with Exiles‘ hooker Dave Gairn
The game quickly became an extremely physical chess match. Both sides defences proving to be inflexible and steadfast. It was the Exiles‘ miserly defence that gave Bahrain their first opportunity of points. Exiles‘ Number 8, Jaen Botes, adjudged not to have rolled away from a tackle quickly enough. To anybody watching the game wearing Exiles hats it looked like the big South African had moved away quickly enough, but the Bahrain 10 stepped up and slotted the visitors in front. 0 – 3 to Bahrain.
Brad Owako ins himself in space after Moeneeb Galant caused the initial damage
A series of penalties had given the visitors to The Sevens Stadium good field position just at the Exiles‘ 22. A long throw to the tail of the line set the visitors on the attack in the Exiles‘ 22. Frantic, yet superb defence by the men-in-black kept Bahrain from crossing the try line. A knock-on was forced after some goal-line heroics and Exiles were awarded a scrum a few metres from their own try line.
The Exiles scrum looked dominant, but referee Jaco de Wit adjudged that an Exiles prop had gone to ground and Bahrain had another penalty. 0 – 6 to Bahrain.
The second Bahrain score seemed to have the effect of galvanising the Exiles attack. Hard carrying and hard running, against a defence that didn’t want to give an inch was making for an enthralling contest. For the Exiles the usual suspects were making the hard yards. Second rows Shane Weweje and Captain, John Donnan, were carrying hard and direct. Hooke, Dave Gairn, was is combative self and the Exiles back-row of Matt Mills, Anthony Kapp, and Jaen Botes were making complete nuisances of themselves to anybody wearing red.
Bahrain‘s Number 8 catches a clearance kick
Exiles’ Dr Vishnu ‘Vish’ Radhakrishnan watches on
The first try of the match cam completely against the run of play. The Exiles attack was beginning to create space in the outside channels and making yards. The Bahrain defence was still ferocious but they were starting to show signs of fatigue as spaces begin to appear. After several phases of play the Exiles had worked themselves into the Bahrain‘ 22. Moeneeb Galant had broken a weaker Bahrain tackle and when he was called down he offloaded the ball to Exiles‘ Kenyan centre, Brad Owako.
Brad found some space and offloaded the ball to ever-present flanker, Anthony Kapp. When ‘Kappie‘ was brought to ground the men-in-black were 12 metres from the Bahrain try line and looking like they had enough numbers to breach the ‘Red Wall’ defence.
With the Exiles outnumbering Bahrain on the right side of the pitch, outside-half, Handre Snetler, snapped the other way and tried to chip the Bahrain defence. The ball was tipped in the air by Bahrain second row, Aled Morris, and regathered. A quick pass to the Bahrain number 11 and there was nothing between Bahrain‘s wing and the Exiles‘ try line but green grass. Unconverted. 0 – 11 Bahrain.
Despite all of the effort and the intense defence, the Exiles found themselves 0 – 11 down and you’d be forgiven for fearing that it might get a lot worse for the home side. A glimmer of light appeared when, again after several intense phases of play, Handre Snetler got the MiB on the scoreboard, slotting a penalty just before half time. 3 – 11 to Bahrain. Half Time.
Exiles’ Jaen Botes and Bahrain’s Aled Morris discuss their time in the Welsh Premiership
Nord Anglia School’s Dave Gairn and Tarek Mursal talk lineouts
It wasn’t the best of starts for the Exiles in the second half. An early penalty allowed Bahrain to nudge the scoreboard along with another three points. 3 – 14 to Bahrain.
The restoration of the eleven point gap sparked the Exiles into action. les new scrum half, James Troup, had the back line moving and centre Robbie Deegan was finding small spaces to send big runners into. Hard carries continued, ball retention was good, and it wasn’t long before Handre Snetler was adding three more points to the Exiles‘ score with a penalty. 6 – 14 to Bahrain.
At this point, both sides were looking fatigued. Exiles‘ Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Jacques Benade, made some changes and put some fresh legs onto the field. Two of those legs belonged to UAE scrum-half, Carel Thomas. Carel possesses feet that make Michael Flatley look pedestrian and he was quickly causing problems for the Bahrain defence by finding space around the rucks.
Schalk Du Preez opens the Exiles’ try-scoring account
One dart through the Bahrain defence and Carel was hauled down at the Bahrain 5m line. Jaen Botes carried on the charge and when Botes was brought to ground Carel was already on his feet and at the breakdown. A quick pass to Exiles‘ centre, Rory Arthur, a pop to wing, Schalk Du Preez, and the Exiles were over for their first try of the match. Unconverted. 11 – 14 to Bahrain.
A quick penalty in the Bahrain 22 and Carel‘s next contribution to the game was to get over the try line himself and put the Exiles into what had, twenty minutes earlier looked like an unlikely lead. Carel’s dancing feet again catching the Bahrain defence out. Converted by Handre Snetler, 18 – 14 to the Exiles.
Robbie Deegan winds up a pass
Rory Arthur had an impressive game alongside Brad Owako
Carel Thomas scores the Exiles‘ second try
The game had distilled into the last 10 minutes. Bahrain kicked a penalty awarded by referee Jaco de Wit under the Exiles‘ posts after a misunderstanding about the score. The visitors had believed that the penalty would have taken them back into the lead but it had taken the score to 18 – 17 to the Exiles.
The last moments of the match were frantic. The Exiles looked like they were going to hold out for a dramatic win over the West Asia Premiership champions. A defensive lineout gave possession of the ball to the men-in-black, centre Brad Owako carried hard into the Bahrain defence but he found himself alone with no ruckers. A shrill blast from the referee’s whistle and an easy 3 points to the ‘Red Wall’. 18 – 20 to Bahrain. Final Score.
For the second season in a row the Exiles lost out to Bahrain in the West Asia Premiership by two points and would again be contemplating what ‘might have been’.
|Jaen Botes||Number Eight||0||0||0||0|
|Schalk Du Preez||Wing||1||0||0||0|
|Cornel Steyn||Number Eight||0||0||0||0|
DUBAI EXILES RFC vs BAHRAIN
West Asia Premiership (10th November 2023) – The Sevens Stadium