The United Arab Emirates, who hosted WCBU 2015, faced off against newcomers to the beach the Republic of Korea in an affair that featured many expats and showed an array of global talent. Both teams were full of Americans, Brits, and Australians who have made new homes in both countries as well as a number of natives.
On the first day, the teams had contrasting results but both enjoyed positive displays. The Korean outfit bested Belgium 10-8, taking the win with relative ease, while UAE took Ireland to game point in a performance that perhaps shocked some as just two years ago were they had been on the wrong end of a 13-0 loss at the same event. It was clear that this side had pushed on hugely since Dubai and was looking to continue to build as a nation and find a place in the spotlight.
The battle would take place first thing Monday morning. With a light wind and the sun not yet fully at ascendancy, things were a lot cooler for the players than the day previous. Korea came out of the traps fast, converting their opening point in 30 seconds flat. A much longer point soon followed as UAE found trouble converting and after several turns each way the East Asian outfit found the first break. Some double happiness from Thomas Capranica meant that Korea were in the driver’s seat for much of the opening period.
At 1-5 down, UAE took a tactical time out to address their issues and try find a route back into the tie. It proved to do the trick, albeit short term, as they managed to punch home their second of the game as top scorer Mikey Saade found space in the endzone. However, the Middle Easterners couldn’t create enough momentum for a break despite getting the turn as some poor offensive decisions allowed Korea to hold. The two sides began to trade out the game from here with big plays from Korea’s American import Tyler Nelson and native Kim Hyunju allowing them to maintain their breathing space.
The UAE’s performance was probably summed up by one play. Australian Thorn Kendall made a massive layout grab on defence right outside the Korean endzone, stood up and floated a backhand across the endzone, way in front of any teammates. As it appeared to be flying out the sideline, a UAE player turned around in disgust at this error but didn’t realise that his young, spritely friend Jared Lawrence was up to the challenge and attempted a frankly outrageous greatest. Sadly, by this point his team mates had all prepared to play defence and it bounced right off the initial thrower and into the sand.
Korea took their momentum into a tough game against the Irish and lost 11-7, while the UAE fell 9-5 to host nation France. Korea still have a chance to progress, though, after a good win against Belgium, paired with the victory over UAE, leaves them on two wins and one loss.
By Aidan Kelly.