Bahrain RFC head coach Louie Tonkin added another feather to the cap of what has been a phenomenal season by any standards, as he helped guide the UAE to a commanding victory over hosts Thailand in the Asia Rugby Championship Division II final on Saturday.
Having hammered minnows Guam by 82-7 in Wednesday’s semi-final, the UAE were up for an altogether sterner challenge in the game to decide who would return to the Division I competition next year but in reality, the contest was over by half-time, as the tourists opened up an emphatic 45-0 lead.
The tone was set as early as the third minute, when Dubai Exiles’ second row Steven Ferguson – marking his first international start – rumbled over for the first of his two tries, which came either side of a brace of his own from Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ centre Kinivilame Natuna.
Jebel Ali Dragons’ full-back Matt Richards also helped himself to a couple of tries, while Exiles’ notorious number eight Jaen Botes followed up his four-try salvo on Wednesday with another one here.
Full credit to the hosts, who were much better value in the second period and deserved their two tries, which came in response to the only UAE points from captain Luke Stevenson – who also posted ten first half points off the tee.
Having been withdrawn from Division I last year, this was a case of job done for UAE head coach Apollo Perelini and his team, who can look forward to next year’s tournament against the likes of Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei with the makings of a solid squad.
For Tonkin meanwhile, it marks the perfect finish to a season in which he led Bahrain to both the Western Clubs Champions League and West Asia Premiership.