Monday February 12 2018

Pirates reduce title race to three

Hima Cement Heathens’ reign as Nile Special

Hima Cement Heathens’ reign as Nile Special Rugby Premier League champions is over. FILE PHOTO 

By Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo

Nile special league Saturday results
Heathens 3-13 Pirates
Kobs v Jinja Hippos (walkover)
Rhinos 81-8 Impis

KAMPALA. Hima Cement Heathens’ reign as Nile Special Rugby Premier League champions is over. And it’s not that the league is done. Far from it.
There is still seven games to play in the 18-game season. They lost the most important of the 11 so far, beaten 13-3 by table leaders Buzz Pirates at their Kyadondo backyard on Saturday.

With that, Pirates, on 46 points, built a 10-point lead over fourth-placed Heathens. “It’s a painful loss. It just wasn’t our day,” Heathens’ captain Michael Wokorach declared.
“We wanted to still be contending for our trophy but must now work on winning our remaining games,” the gracious outside center added.

This was an atrocious game riddled by mistakes from knock-ons and turnovers. Eventually, it was decided by Haruna Muhammad’s first half try. Lock Joel Angyuo converted it.

Perhaps, Heathens didn’t lose their title on Saturday. They lost it by losing three of their nine first round games. They has since embarked on a six-match winning streak.

Pirates ended that with their fourth successive victory over Heathens on a day when Betway Kobs and Shell Rimula Rhinos came together to cheer their Kyadondo rivals. Kobs got a walkover Jinja Hippos to move to 45 points while Rhinos routed Makerere Impis 81-8 to accumulate 44. They needed a favour from Heathens that never came.

Kobs and Rhinos could blame Heathens’ flanker Cox Muhigwa who turned over the ball inside Piarets’ 22 when they had a ‘four-on-one’ situation in their favour. All he had to do was pass and reduce the margin to 10-13. After that, the visitors, Pirates, dreaming of their first league title to add to their Uganda Cup crown, defended resolutely.

“This pitch favours our game (because of its size). The defending you saw was great. We have to go all the way and win the league. To do so, these are the games you have to win,” Ivan Magomu, Pirates’ fly half, said. He played with a strapped elbow to epitomize to spirit within this side which was illuminated by eighth man Desire Ayera’s tackling which made him man of the match.

One of Pirates, Kobs or Rhinos will now win the league. Pirates have looked the safe bet, for long.