BAHRAIN’S RFC’s select XV took a significant step towards what would be a first ever title in the current guise of the Gulf Conference competition over the weekend as they earned an impressive bonus point victory over reigning champions and fellow challengers Muscat in Muscat.
Tries from Greg Heath and Oli Johnson-Munday bookended a brace of scores from teenage winger Rory Drummond with the metronomic boot of Ross Preedy adding the rest to a final scoreline of 7-32.
Arguably, the nature of the victory rather than the scoreline will be most satisfying to the Bahrain management, coming as it did, on the back of a ruthless scrummaging performance and some clinical finishing and despite conceding significant periods of possession and high number of penalties to a dogged home side.
After some early pressure almost created a score for Drummond in the right hand corner, it was the hosts who got into their pattern for long stretches of the opening half, albeit without ever really threatening the Bahrain tryline.
With only minutes left in the first-half, the match was still delicately poised but a late flurry ultimately proved decisive as first, Heath picked off an intercept and then Drummond got himself on the end of a delicious crossfield kick and with Preedy adding the extras to two earlier penalties, it was 0-20 at the break.
The opening exchanges of the second period brought some frustration for Bahrain, as they struggled to find any rhythm in the game, but eventually full-back Joel Lewis found some space and put Drummond away for his second.
A similar pattern followed thereafter but the pressure finally told as second-row Johnson-Munday squeezed over in the corner, after some great build-up play by his fellow forwards.
With Preedy off the field, the difficult conversion was missed but at 0-32 in front, Bahrain were now cruising and, in reality, Muscat’s late consolation score was probably the least they deserved and will give them something to build on ahead of the return fixture in Saar next month.
A point of any kind from that game will be enough for Bahrain to land the title.