BAHRAIN Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) first XV will face a stern test of their early season title credentials tomorrow night as they tackle heavyweights Dubai Exiles in round three of the West Asia Premiership in Dubai, starting 6pm Bahrain time.
The match will be screened live via Bahrain RFC’s Facebook page at the clubhouse in Saar.
With squad rotation, the need for impact off the bench and the back line injury crisis all coming into play, Bahrain head coach Louie Tonkin has made a total of five changes and a further two positional switches from the starting side that earned a 52-16 victory over Dubai Eagles last time out.
There are big changes in the front-row with returning props Oli Sanson and Rich Muncaster named either side of hooker Lindsey Gibson in place of the unfortunate Jack Parry and Sunia Fameitau, who will be eager to make their mark from the bench.
Tommy Booth starts alongside Mark Burnell in the second-row, with Max Sale finally having departed after three weeks’ of farewells, while Aled Morris joins Jordan Viggers and Elliot Behan in an impressive-looking back-row unit.
With Rob Bennet still sidelined and Nick Annear’s miraculous recovery from serious injury only enough for a place on the bench, Deina Morete continues to deputise at scrum-half, while club captain Adam Wallace steps in to take the reins at fly-half, after Leon Mauer joined fellow playmakers Luke Radley and Ross Preedy on the treatment table.
The silver lining of all that means Dai Evans and Jack Phillips are afforded another opportunity to enhance their burgeoning centre partnership, while in a makeshift back three, former retiree Terrence Tantoh retains his place on the left wing, Alastair Crombie returns to his previous life on the right and Callum Roberts drops back to full-back.
Joining Parry, Fameitau and Annear on the bench will be veterans Arron Dalgarno and Matt McKee, utility back Joel Lewis and the Graham Bishop, who makes an earlier than expected return after eight months out with two separate shoulder injuries.