Heathens wary of Pirates
Posted Saturday, March 23 2013 at 02:00
Kobs engage Buffaloes and Heathens meet Pirates in the Nile Special Super 8 League semifinals.
MTN Heathens will be the first to admit that the performances of the past two months count for nothing.
The change of format of the Nile Special Super 8 Rugby League means that it’s easy to call this a cup tournament. What would have been the second round was discarded as the top four sides clash in the semifinals at Kyadondo ground today.
Top seeds Heathens, winners of their seven games thus far, face fourth-placed G4S Pirates following two weeks of rest.
In the early game, a confident Toyota Buffaloes will seek a season double over 10-time league champions DMark Kobs. “Like I said at the start, every game is a cup final,” Heathens skipper Alex Mubiru said.
The regular season fixture between the two sides finished 24-16 in favour of Heathens last month and they have not lost a league at Kyadondo in nearly four years now.
Pirates run them close, missing six penalties and two conversions, with Anthony Kinene and Joel Anguyo taking turns. Even with that victory, Heathens coach Brian Tabaruka felt they were not clinical enough.
“Our indiscipline at the breakdown let us down and we have to improve,” Tabaruka noted.
Their pursuit of a fifth successive league title has been helped by the rise and rise of fullback Philip Wokorach whose 16 points gunned down Pirates at Legends Rugby Club.
Benon Kiiza was chosen to start in the 24-7 win over Kobs two weeks ago but Wokorach should regain his place in the starting 15.
Pirates’ biggest asset has been Marvin Odongo. The eighth man scored and set up a try in the futile attempt to beat Heathens. They won three and lost four but that hardly matters now as they seek to knockout the top seeds. If they need a tip, Rhino would give them one as they did the same to Kobs, then seeded first, back in 2005 to reach the final.
Kobs have worries of their own. The failure to beat Buffaloes and Heathens, losing 22-18 to the former, means that the comfort of a home semifinal was eroded. However, with the change of format, Kobs, Uganda Cup champions for three years running now, will fancy their chances of a first league title since 2008.
Coach Andrew Owor’s Buffaloes, also 27-10 victors over Pirates, have nothing to fear. “It’s going to be a tough semifinal,” Kobs coach Fred Mudoola said after watching Pirates being torn apart.
In centre Afred Bijik, Pirates possess a player with ability to break the line with ease. The boot of wing Philip Pariyo has also been unrelenting.