Recent results count for little as Bahrain and Doha prepare for do or die battle

Matt Jones 19:13 21/03/2017
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Braced for battle: Bahrain's Tommy Booth

Bahrain did the double over their rivals in the West Asia Premiership this season but were hammered 45-17 last Friday at league winners Abu Dhabi Harlequins – their heaviest defeat of the season.

Coach Louie Tonkin blamed himself for focusing too much attention on this week’s semi-final clash instead of concentrating on performing against Quins in a bid to build momentum, but the Welshman says mood in the camp is positive as they head to Qatar.

“The guys clearly had one eye on the semi-final and it showed in our performance, but we had a really strong meeting on Monday,” said the former Carmarthen Quins and Pontypool coach.

“The boys all believe we can be successful and that’s powerful. We have everything to play for, I don’t think there’s any favourites. We’ve beaten them twice in the league before but that counts for absolutely nothing at the moment.

“It’s a hard place to go and win so we’re not looking too much into previous results, it’s a one off fixture.”

Doha's Pita Tuilagi

Doha’s Pita Tuilagi

Doha’s home is known as ‘The Fortress’ but Bahrain came away with an 18-15 win In November, completing the double with a 14-10 triumph at home last month.

And despite missing out on a home semi after Dubai Hurricanes forfeited their final fixture of the season against Doha last week to hand Alex Nater’s side second place, Tonkin says his side have no fear.

“It’s been a huge focus for us since we realised we’d qualified for the top four, and we’re hugely excited about playing in a Gulf derby,” he said.

“It’s going to be very feisty and there’s going to be a good crowd. We’re taking over a bus full of supporters too, we really appreciate them paying to travel to support us.

“We’re massively motivated and excited. We always said it would be difficult last week and it was just Quins wanted it far more than us and were far more effective than us on the night.

“We have a number of players to come back into the squad that didn’t feature last week which is really good.”

Doha have their own concerns, left restless at Canes cancelling the final game of the campaign last week.

It means Doha have been left with a game to play in a month. The last time they did play was that 14-10 reverse in Bahrain, but scrum-half Luke Ward insists he and his colleagues head into the clash refreshed and revitalised.

“We can’t wait. A break has been really refreshing for us to re-group and we’ve had a good two weeks training so we’ll be firing out the blocks on Friday,” said Ward.

“It’s cup finals rugby so anything can happen on the day, so we’re not reading too much into the Quins result, just focusing on our performance and glad to be playing at home. It will be a great day for the club.”

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