By Chris Bath – The Gulf Rugby Paper, Date: 29/5/14
Rugby League in the UAE was given a boost this weekend with the fantastic turnout and competitive performance in the Rugby League Cup fixtures. Many rugby players in the UAE with Rugby League backgrounds have been keen to get back to their roots and it with this in mind that the UAERL organisers have been working hard to continue the development and enthusiasm from last season’s four team league. Rugby League has it’s growing popularity in the UAE and players not having the opportunity to get out much in a game situation were relishing the opportunity.
Dubai Wasps lined up to play Abu Dhabi Harlequins in a game that was also billed as a charity raiser for the Mike Ballard Foundation. Harlequins looked, before the game, a much bigger unit and many expected a one sided score, but the Wasps were much more adventurous with the ball in hand. With the Wasps making the first set of 6, the impact from the first tackles, heard as far away as the tennis court.
The Wasps kept it close and at half time the score was 10 – 4 to the Harlequins. Clendon Pene made some big runs up the middle of the park.
Ranato Tikoisolone, Joshua Navabale and Pinati Lui scored for Abu Dhabi, who in the second half, got into a comfortable lead. An impressive display from Ian Overton started to get the Wasps back into the game. Nathan Morehu worked tirelessly and the experience of the Niazi brothers almost got Dubai over the line at the final whistle.
UAERL will be looking to hold trials for a National select team soon and will be heartened at the impressive display from players such as Joshua Navabale, with his big hits and punching holes all over the park, this was, in the end a really entertaining match to watch.