By Reuben J. Opeesa
Saturday, March 4
*Heathens Vs Walukuba – Kyadondo (1pm)
*Buffaloes Vs Mongers – Kyadondo (3pm)
*Pirates Vs Impis – Kings Park
*KOBs Vs Rhinos – Legends
*Hippos Vs Rams – Dam Waters Jinja
The Uganda Rugby Premier League continues this weekend with Match-week Eight.
Top teams have been tasked to move ahead without some of their pivotal players who were called up for Uganda Sevens team preparing for World Challenger Series due April in Stellenbosch, South Africa
And this has left a big anticipation for shockers.
HEATHENS Vs WALUKUBA
The weekend’s early kick off will see title holders Heathens host the newly promoted Jinja side, Walukuba Barbarians.
Heathens standing second in the league, are known for punishing their opponent from all sides of the pitch, draining them of energy and putting up very high unfamiliar scores.
They come into this contest after demolishing a suffering Rams side 78-08 and Walukuba Barbarians will have to show up prepared for a heavy challenge.
With their light weighted pack compared to their opposition, Walukuba’s pack is definately bound to suffer the wrath of a pack weighing almost twice as them.
The Jinja side has proved to play magnificent rugby over the last few games but in all honesty, Heathens Vs Walukuba is not a match-up and it is a game that can only go one side, the Heathens side.
Kicking off at 1pm, Heathens will be without their captain Micheal Okorach, their scrumhalf Aaron Ofoyowroth and Nobert Okeny who are in national 7’s team camp.
It is a game that will definitely hold up with high scores in favor of the defending champions and anything else will be out of expectation, unless otherwise.
BUFFALOES Vs MONGERS
After suffering their fifth loss of the season, Mongers will travel to Kyadondo to face a Buffaloes side that is looking to have stabilized and settled comfortably into the season.
The Plascon Mongers have a chance to see themselves move up into the 7th position as they are just two points shy and a win will grant them this desire given that the current position holders (Walukuba), have a much tougher game at hand.
Buffaloes are on the other hand looking at maintaining their winning streak after their well-deserved win against the Impis at the graveyard in game week 7.
A positive result from this game will see Buffaloes edging their way closer into the top four. It is a much balanced game and could go either way at the end of the day, but Mongers will look at employing its pack in a game where they hold an advantage in the forwards’ size and weight and having a brilliant kicker would work for them at the end of the day.
Buffaloes’ coach Charles Onen will focus on employing his line structure and involve the line players in the build-up since this has proved to work for him in the previous games.
The Kyadondo side will be without Douglas Musoke who is serving a one match ban for dangerous play against a Jinja Hippos player on 18th February, 2023 but will have Innocent Lubangakene and Emmanuel Ebong showcasing their abilities in their debuts for Buffaloes.
The game kicks off at 3PM and being the game of the week, it will be aired live on NBS Sports.
PIRATES Vs IMPIS
Having suffered their very first loss this season against Kobs last week and dropping to third position after being table leaders for most of the season, Stanbic Black Pirates will, at 4pm, host an unstable Impis side at the Kings Park Arena in Bweyogerere.
Both sides had a really impressive start to the season with Pirates winning all its opening six games before succumbing to an impressive and resilient Kobs side that brought their unbeaten streak to an end; and Impis having a five-game unbeaten run before finally seeing an end to what many called a “honeymoon” period for the Makerere based side as they lost to title holders- Heathens and following on to lose to the other Kyadondo based side-Buffaloes in an very much contested game.
In a game that will see the third and fourth placed teams face off, Pirates will be without Desire Ayera, Alex Aturinda, Timothy Kisiga and Mubarak Wandera, all of who have been named for the Sevens team training period.
The “Arrogance Boys” will surely deem this an advantage to themselves as they will stage a team which will see them without their speedstar, Ivan Otai who is also currently in the sevens camp.
The last time the two sides faced off at Kings Park saw Pirates triumph with an 11-09 win in a very much chaotic game that occurred under the same circumstances as Pirates had most of its star players representing the country in an international tournament.
This game is surely one of those one cannot tell the winner but one thing is for sure, it is going to be a tight contest. Impis come into this having lost its two last games and will need to prove that they are still capable of staying in the top four.
Being the home team, the odds look favour Pirates but this does not rule out the Impis form.
KOBS Vs RHINOS
In an all Legends affair, Kobs, the now table leaders host their home counterparts- Rhinos in a game that kicks off at 4PM.
Having moved top of the league table after their immense win over previous league leaders, Pirates, in game week 7, Kobs will be looking at laying a solid ground for their stay at the top. The “Naguru Derby” if it is anything to be called as such, is a game that always gives both teams a run for their money and so there is a lot in anticipation.
With Kobs most likely to show up without the likes of Ian Munyani and Adrian Kasito who are training with the National 7s team, the game might as well just be leveled a little to favor Rhinos.
Rhinos, have not been on their best performance this season but were able to register their first season win against Mongers in Game week 7, which saw them move a step above from bottom of the log to 9th position with 8 points.
If their win is anything to go by, Rhinos will want to prove a point by putting a spirited fight against the league leaders but even then, the game is seemingly going Kobs’ way since they hold the advantage in terms of pedigree.
HIPPOS Vs RAMS
In a game that could potentially see them move into fourth position, Hippos host RAMS RFC at Damswater in Jinja at 4pm.
With three wins registered under their name, Jinja Hippos have seen themselves move up the table given their poor start to the season having succumbed to an in-form Impis by then.
They have since garnered points that have sent them fifth on the table standings. The Hippos will not be with their captain-David Wako and Emmanuel Wakabi who are both serving a one match ban for dangerous play against Heathens players.
They will also be without the likes of Denis Etwau, Timothy Mugisha, and Yassin Waiswa who are part of the 19-man group summoned for the National 7s team training. It remains to be seen as to whether this will have a negative impact on their on-form side.
Rams RFC on the other hand are yet to win a game this season, having lost six and drawn one, gathering themselves just five points which keep them bottom of the league log.
Rams travel to Jinja without their Fly Half Hossana Opileni who has been called up into the National 7’s team camp, Rams will hope to field a standard replacement for him and it is right to say his absence is most definitely going to inflict the team given that he has had a great impact in the way the team has put up scores off the tee.
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