BAHRAIN Rugby Football Club’s first XV will look to finish off the West Asia Premiership round robin stage with another win on home soil at Saar this afternoon, starting 3pm, against Dubai Hurricanes.
Having already secured top spot in the league standings by virtue of last week’s forfeit by Jebel Ali Dragons, Bahrain will be looking to build some much-needed momentum for next week’s semi-final.
Player management has been a big focus for Bahrain head coach Louie Tonkin in the run-up to this game for which he has made six changes and a further two positional switches from the side that earned a hard-fought win against Dubai Exiles three weeks ago.
Two of those come in the front row, where Jack Parry and Rich Muncaster return to the starting line-up, having both been impacted by injury since the turn of the year.
Unsurprisingly, there is no change at hooker, as Lindsey Gibson extends his remarkable record of having started every league game Bahrain has competed in for the last four seasons and he captains the side today in the absence of Adam Wallace.
The second-row pairing of Derryn Jones and Tom Bell remain intact while a dynamic back-row unit sees the return of Aled Morris and, in his first league start of the season, Rhys Fitzgerald, alongside veteran Alastair Crombie.
Rob Bennett is reunited with Leon Mauer in the half-backs, with Dai Evans shifting to inside centre to accommodate the return of Jack Phillips.
In the back three, Greg Heath and Callum Roberts remain in situ, while James Whttingham gets to show his skills from full-back, having impressed at fly-half over recent weeks.
On the bench, Matt McKee, Arron Dalgarno and Oli Johnson-Munday are rewarded for their performances for the Select XV in Muscat last week, with Mark Burnell and Tommy Booth providing further forward cover. This afternoon’s game is set for an earlier-than-usual kick-off time of 3pm in Saar, with the game to be screened live on the club’s Facebook page.