Bahrain Rugby Football Club’s first XV squad go in search of a place in the West Asia Cup final for the third season in a row this evening, as they take on Jebel Ali Dragons in Saar.
Having led this season’s West Asia Premiership standings virtually from start to finish, Bahrain secured first place and a coveted home semi-final in the season-defining play-offs by virtue of this afternoon’s hosts forfeiting their penultimate round-robin fixture in Dubai two weeks ago due to a lack of suitably qualified front row resources.
Two weeks is a long time in Gulf rugby however and, having put bottom side Dubai Eagles to the sword in convincing fashion last weekend, the Dragons travel to Bahrain looking to repeat their performance on the same ground at this time last year, when they captured the league title in memorable fashion on the final day of the season.
The hosts, meanwhile, come into the game on the back of a hard-fought victory over Dubai Hurricanes last weekend and with five changes in personnel.
Up front, Oli Sanson and Sunai Famietau are named on either side of the ever-present Lindsey Gibson, with Derryn Jones and Tom Bell once again paired in the engine room.
Alastair Crombie gets the nod to keep hold of the seven jersey, with Jordan Viggers and Tommy Booth returning at blindside and number eight respectively.
Rob Bennett and Leon Mauer continue their half-back partnership, with captain Adam Wallace returning to partner Jack Phillips in the centre. That change sees Dai Evans revert to the wing, where he will link up with Callum Roberts and James Whittingham in the back three.
On the bench, Jack Parry, Rich Muncaster, Mark Burnell and Rhys Fitzgerald will look to pick up where they left off last time out, while Elliot Behan, Nick Annear and Luke Radley are all included after long-term injuries.
The winner-takes-all game is set for a 5pm kick-off in Saar and once again will be screened live via the club’s Facebook page.