It may only be early November but Bahrain Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) first XV are already into big-game territory, as they welcome Abu Dhabi Harlequins to Saar in a West Asia Premiership top-of-the-table clash this evening.
Amazingly, this will be the third time the two sides have faced off already this season, with Bahrain’s two victories in September meaning the Quins will have no shortage of motivation for the latest encounter.
On the back of last week’s impressive victory over Dubai Hurricanes, Bahrain head coach Louie Tonkin has made changes to the starting line-up, with the return of a number of key players from injury causing the Welshman the sort of headaches he has longed for since his arrival in Bahrain two years ago.
Unsurprisingly, the front row of Jack Parry, Lindsey Gibson and Rich Muncaster is retained after demolishing the ‘Canes pack last week, with Tom Bell marking his first start since the opening game of the season in Kandy alongside Derryn Jones in the second row.
The back row of Elliot Behan, Jordan Viggers and Tommy Booth continues its impressive run, while Leon Maeur returns to start alongside Rob Bennett in the half-backs.
Skipper Adam Wallace provides a huge boost to the side as he returns to partner Jack Phillips in the midfield in what is an otherwise reshuffled three-quarter line, with Dai Evans moving out to the left wing, Callum Roberts shifting across to the right flank and last week’s man-of-the-match Deina Morete dropping into his preferred full-back berth.
On the bench, Sunia Fameitau and Luke Radley both return to the fray alongside Oli Sanson, Mark Burnell, Alastair Crombie, Nick Annear and Graham Bishop.
Today’s game is set for a 5pm kick-off in Saar and will once again be screened live via Bahrain RFC’s Facebook page.