The 2017 Asia Rugby Western Club Champions League has proven to be the most competitive version of the competition so far, with 1 close win & a draw so far. Last year winners, Abu Dhabi Harlequins have to rely on a Bahrain RFC win on Friday 22nd September in Kandy to retain their title.
In the 1st match of the competition, Abu Dhabi Harlequins hosted Bahrain at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi on Friday 15th September. Bahrain started strongly, with Adam Wallace scoring a Try in the 9th minute, which was converted by Full Back Luke Radely. Left Wing Oliver Luke scored an unconverted Try for Bahrain in the 18
Left Wing Oliver Luke scored an unconverted Try for Bahrain in the 18th minutes to make the score 15 – 0. In the 24th minute a penalty try opened the Harlequins’ account, which was followed by a penalty and converted Try for Fly-half Luke Stevenson to finish the half with a 2-point lead.
The Quins started the 2nd half with a Penalty Try in the 43rd minute followed by a converted Try by substitute Garth van Niekerk and they scored again in the 75th minute. Bahrain had a strong last 10 minutes and scored 3 tries in the 70th, 78th & 80 minutes, but could not get the away win they desperately chased.
Final score Abu Dhabi Quins 36 – 32 Bahrain
In the 2nd match, Kandy Sports Club hosted the Quins at their Nittawela stadium.
It was the visitors who scored the first points of the game, straight off the kick off as Kandy made a mess while trying to collect the high ball. Eventually a scrum was awarded 5m from the try-line with a Harlequin feed. They drove the Kandy forwards as scrum half Andrew Semple handed a nice pass to his fly half Joe Teasdale, who went over the whitewash to score. Andrew Semple had very little trouble in adding the extras. Kandy 0 – 7 Harlequins
Sample was again in action as the Harlequins found their way back into the opposition’s half forcing them to be offside. The Harlequins kicked the penalty over to extend their lead. Kandy 0 – 10 Harlequins.
Kandy found their way back into the game at the quarter mark of the game when Thilina Wijesinghe kicked a penalty when Harlequins where offside. Then, after a move which started in the right corner of the field, with the ball switching hands through some swift passing from the Kandy backline, Anurudda Wilwara scored Kandy’s first try of the game as he touched down in the left corner. The try was converted by Thilina & the scores were to level the scores. Kandy 10 – 10 Harlequins
The Harlequins’ forwards finished the 1st half strongly & the captain Ben Bolger took full advantage & to score near the posts. His try was converted making the half-time score was Kandy 10 – 17 Harlequins.
Kandy’s Anurudda Wilwara, started the 2nd half with a fantastic run, stepping 3 defenders and scoring to help his team equalize again after the conversion. Kandy 17 – 17 Harlequins.
The Harlequins hit back 5 minutes later with 2 consecutive tries to make it a 12-point game with nearly 30 minutes to go. First it was the number 24 Sean Stevens who scored for the visitors. The build up to the try showcased some excellent handling skills and a bunch of tidy offloads . Sample made the kick look easy from the sideline. Kandy 17 – 24 Harlequins
The second try was scored by fullback Jona Marshall, who ran a brilliant line inside Wilwara and Wijesinghe before exploiting the gap to dive in at the left corner. The try was not converted. Kandy 17 – 29 Harlequins.
Kandy managed to pull 1 try back after the Harlequins line was caught offside on numerous occasions and the referee awarded a penalty Try. Kandy 24 – 29 Harlequins.
In the last minute of the match, after some good handling from his teammates, Lavanga Perera dived over for a try in the far corner to bring the hosts within 2 points. The difficult conversion was successful, with the crowd’s roar at seeing their boys grab a draw lifting the roof off the stadium.
Final Score Kandy 29 – 29 Harlequins.
Tomorrow Friday 22nd of September, Bahrain are the next visitors to Kandy hoping to spoil Kandy’s party and record their 1st win of the season. Bahrain will also use the match to help them build momentum going into the West Asia Premiership the following weekend, when they have returned home.
On the other hand, Kandy Sports Club are looking to take the momentum of their strong finish against the Harlequins into the final match of the competition and know that they need a bonus point win and a minimum 4 points difference to win the trophy.
The competition table as it currently stands:
|Abu Dhabi Harlequins||2||1||1||0||65||61||4||9||2||8|