Exiles’ trial by fire
Unbeaten Dubai side ready for a monster test against Jebel Ali Dragons
The big games will come thick and fast this season and the biggest one to take place on UAE soil so far this campaign takes place at The Sevens tomorrow when Dubai Exiles welcome Jebel Ali Dragons.
Exiles have rocketed out of the traps following two impressive wins in which they have racked up 125 points. But following destructive wins against new boys Dubai Eagles and a Hurricanes side in transition, the visit of Dragons is set to be a real test.
Henry Paul’s outfit have only played once as they had a bye two weekends ago, but on opening night they fought tooth and nail with Abu Dhabi Harlequins before having their hearts broken when Luke Stevenson put over a last-minute
+110 Dubai Exiles points differential
conversion to earn Quins a 34-33 victory.
But Jebel Ali skipper Ross Samson saw plenty to get excited about by his team in defeat to Quins.
“It’s a big weekend for us, it was a bit of a killer losing to Quins in the last minute so we need to get the show on the road with a big performance this weekend,” said the Scottish scrum-half. “The result was a sore one and no-one likes losing but we can take a lot from the game in terms of performance.
“We were absolutely deadly at times so I’m excited to see more this weekend. We have some ridiculously good talent in the squad and I can’t wait for everyone to see these boys show how good they are.”
Injury may rule Exiles’ all-action lock Stephen Ferguson out of the game, but he is relishing a stern test for his team-mates, who have looked irresistible in the early and have already started to erase the memories of a painful 2016/17.
“The team is looking slick and sharp,” admitted the Northern Irishman, who missed a few weeks after an operation to remove an abcess on his arm, which was unfortunately aggravated in a second team fixture he participated in against Quins last week.
“Hopefully we can build on the momentum from previous weeks. Unfortunately I’m unavailable, playing last week aggravated my arm and another infection popped up.
“I was having my best pre-season in a few years and I’m gutted this has happened again before the biggest game of the season. I’ll sit out this week and get better for Bahrain and Quins.”
Ferguson will be an avid spectator at The Sevens as he hopes Exiles can make it three in a row.
“This game will be the toughest so far,” he added.
“They made the final last year and have recruited well. Maybe as well as us. Our pack is big and having talked to a few of their guys that’s where they are worried.
“But we’ll stick to our plan and all going well it’ll be three in a row.”
Swapping shirts: Gio Fourie, now of Exiles, playing against them for Dragons last season.