Bahrain Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) first XV made history last night as they were crowned Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League winners for the first time following a pulsating encounter against old rivals and reigning champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins.
A first half score from Jack Phillips and a late touchdown by debutant Callum Roberts - along with 17 points from the boot of Ross Preedy did the damage, as Bahrain emerged victorious on a 27-21.
It was a long-overdue first home victory for Bahrain over the UAE giants since February 2010 and one played out to a cocophony of noise from the renowned home crowd, who warmly settled in to their recently completed new grandstand.
The home side – and the supporters alike – had to endure a nervous final few minutes as the Quins pressed for a second try of their own that could have set captain Luke Stevenson up for the chance to steal the win but the resolute defense held firm, much to the delight of Bahrain head coach Louie Tonkin and his charges.
As expected, this winner-takes-all clash was a pulsating affair virtually from start to finish, with little really to choose between the two sides throughout.
Indeed, Quins took the driving seat entering the last ten minutes thanks to the boot of Stevenson and it looked like they were on course to retain the trophy they have held since the competition’s inauguration in 2016, until a cracking finish from Roberts – after some superb build-up play – made the difference.
There won’t be too much time for either side to sit back and rest on their laurels as the two face off again in a week’s time in the opening round of the West Asia Premiership at Zahed Sports City in the UAE capital.