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04 March 2024

The gulf in class is closing

Arabian Gulf's Jonny MacDonald says his team are fast improving. (SUPPLIED)

By Ahmad Lala

Arabian Gulf star Jonny MacDonald says the team have progressed a long way after the Dubai Sevens and is confident they can win one of the minor titles at the Sevens World Cup here in March.

The Arabian Gulf were in action yesterday at The Sevens, which will be the venue of the World Cup, against local club sides the Dragons and Hurricanes.

"We were a bit disappointed because we nearly beat Scotland on the first day at the Dubai Sevens [last month] and that would have been an amazing result because we have never won on the first day before," said the 20-year old fullback. "But just the fact we went so close in that game and we played well against Wales and Kenya shows just how far the Gulf has come along.

"To get that win against Georgia also turned a few heads and people have realised come World Cup time we may shock a few teams.

"In March we will be aiming to win one of our group games, because to win on the first day will really boost morale and push us on.

"Personally I believe we can win one of the lower competitions."

The Arabian Gulf team played five consecutive matches yesterday, alternating between the Dragons and Hurricanes, with barely a break in between games and still won comfortably.

"We need to be able to compete when we're tired and keep our skill levels when we tire," said MacDonald. "That's one of the things we missed out on at the Dubai Sevens, especially against America in the Shield final where we didn't turn up physically and they bullied us. But hopefully this training is going to push us on.

"What we need to do is play well all the way and have the composure to kill off games when we're tired."

MacDonald, who was born and grew up in Abu Dhabi, is among a group of younger Arabian Gulf players who will attend the prestigious Springbok academy in South Africa later this month, and he believes it can only help improve the side.

"Hopefully we can learn some things that will better our game," said the player, who, as a 16-year-old, was part of English club Saracen's academy until injuries forced him to leave. "I want to move my game up to the next level so when it comes to World Cup time I can stand out so maybe a team can come and give me an offer.

"Most importantly though, we want to better the team's game, so hopefully we can come back and tell them certain things and help move the team along."

Yesterday's games were in memory of former Dubai Exiles player Stuart Vowles, who, along with partner Kimberlie Stols, died in a road accident two years ago.