BAHRAIN Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) first XV got their West Asia Premiership campaign off to the best possible start on Friday night as they gained maximum points away to heavyweights and fellow title contenders Abu Dhabi Harlequins.
The 14-24 bonus point victory was a first league win for Bahrain over the mighty ‘Quins in nine seasons but one that came at a considerable cost as frontline backs Nick Annear, Ross Preedy and Greg Heath all suffered potentially significant injuries.
From Callum Roberts’ superb take off the first kick-off, the visitors dominated the opening quarter, with man-of-the-match Sunia Fameitau barging over for the opening try after just seven minutes.
The lead was extended five minutes later as Dai Evans touched down a delightful chip through by Preedy, although the latter was just off target with his second conversion attempt.
The inevitable response from the hosts came just after the 20-minute mark as they crashed over through the forwards and Bahrain were then dealt a double blow as half-backs Annear and Preedy went down in quick succession.
Annear manfully played on, with Deina Morete shifting in to fly-half, and they struck for another try through back Phillips down the left, which Morete coolly converted.
There was still time for Quins to tag on another converted try to make it 14-19 before the half-time whistle arrived to the relief of both teams.
The second period was a fairly attritional affair, with little in the way of clear try-scoring chances for either side, as Bahrain heroically defended an onslaught of pressure and Quins unusually missed a number of kickable penalties.
With only minutes remaining on the clock, another timely turnover for Bahrain relieved the pressure and set up the break from which Phillips crossed for his second and the game’s decisive score to round out a huge result for his side.