When Heathens were announced Nile Special Stout Premiership champions last season, Betway Kobs found themselves in a dilemma. It was five years without a league title and Heathens had moved to 15 titles, three more than Kobs at 12. Those are not statistics the Kobs fraternity would just ignore. Something had to be done.
A 15-5 win against Pirates on a final day – that could have ended in many ways – saw Kobs return the league title back to the Legends on Saturday.
The foundation had been built before Pirates’ futile attempt to keep Kobs waiting. Kobs were bigger favourites than ever before to land the title from the first day, the intent visible in a transfer window that brought in seven names.
Arthur Mpande, Byron Oketayot, Mike Otto, Saul Kivumbi, Brian Ochan, Robert Masendi and James Odongo signed to give Kobs the best squad in the league.
“Signing good players is not enough until we consistently get the desired results. How fast the new players get used to the new surroundings will be key, considering it is a very short season,” said Kobs assistant coach Davis Kyewalabye at the beginning of the season.
The signings easily adapted to get Kobs over the line unbeaten.
The acquisition of Timothy Mudoola as strength and conditioning coach has kept the players from exertion after almost a year out of action. Mudoola has learnt from some of the best in the business like Geofrey Kimanni and Helen Buteme to get Kobs there.
The Ogena verve
A fit and scoring Pius Ogena makes Kobs a threat. He gets them moving from the back row and scores for fun while working tirelessly at both set pieces and in open play.
Ogena finally has a league medal in his third season at Kobs, the persistent ankle injury that kept holding him back long gone. He is arguably the best player in the country and has shown it by dominating the league as top try scorer at 10.
They say goals win you games but defence wins you championships. Kobs had the best defence in the league that let in just two tries.
Only Heathens’ Gerald Sewankambo and Pirates’ Harunah Mohammed breached that defence. It is something they had worked on.
“When you avoid conceding, you win games with less pressure and it has worked for us. It also saves you the pressure of chasing games,” explained Kyewalabye.
The return of Brian Odongo got Kobs more leaders in the dressing room. His level-headedness and organisational skills kept the younger players focused. Captain Brian Asaba got a much needed right hand man in Odongo, a former Kobs skipper, to get hold of the team.
With championship feeling back in the blue corner, all eyes are on Kobs. Can they go the extra mile?
Rugby Premier League results
Final day results
Kobs 15 -5 Pirates
Buffaloes 17 - 5 Warriors
Heathens 45-10 Rhinos
Impis 6 - 0 Rams
Hippos 25-11 Mongers