Charles Uhuru breaks a tackle Credit: John Batanudde

Despite clinching a 08-03 victory against Stanbic Black Pirates on Saturday, it was evident Hima Cement Heathens were struggling with the wet ball at Kings Park Stadium during Matchday Two of the 2019-20 Nile Special Uganda Rugby Premier League.

The defending champions committed up to 15 handling errors in the match played after the heavy downpour at Bweyogerere. In comparison with their opponents on the day, this was almost as twice as much as Black Pirates who play quicker with the ball. This made the Heathens look vulnerable a lot more than the technical bench would have loved to witness.

For a side much-fancied for their strong pack, ball in hand is one critical area that Heathens are supposed to be without error. But this was not the case, as captain Charles Uhuru acknowledged after the match.

The (wet) weather is not favouring us, and knowing it may not change until the end of the season, we will have to work on our hands.

Heathens captain, Charles Uhuru

The league kicked off on the night of Friday, November 29, 2019, in a largely rainy season around Uganda. The influence of the weather on how teams are playing can be seen in the results. Generally, the first two matchdays have posted low scoring results on the log.

The highest so far has been Betway Kobs 29-03 victory over Buffaloes in which four tries were scored.

Black Pirates who, unlike Heathens, play more with their explosive backline have not scored a try yet this season. All their 15 points in the two matches played so far have come off the boots of half-backs Stephen Alul and William Nkore.

The rains are expected to continue through the Christmas break, and will probably stretch deep into the first round of the new season. That said, teams will have to reinvent their style in order to maintain possession and gain territory with ball in hand.

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

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