Jordan Bongomin breaks a tackle against Hippos
  • Saturday, February 29, 2020:
  • 4.30 pm: Jinja Hippos v Hima Cement Heathens at Dam Waters Rugby Club, Jinja

For the time Jinja Hippos have been part of top tier rugby in Uganda, they have been on an impressive growth curve but victory against the top brass clubs, which may be too much to ask of them, has consistently eluded them.

The top brass clubs include their next opponents, Heathens, against whom in the first round this season, Hippos were routed, 56-00. It was a one-sided affair at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds as Heathens were simply too strong for Hippos, who were saved by the final whistle after conceding 10 tries.

Heathens’ kicking left a lot to be desired on the day as only 3 of those were converted successfully. Their worries in the kicking department are still existent as they are yet to find the perfect replacement to half-back Aaron Ofoyrwoth who has been away with the national sevens squad at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in South America.

Judging by how Hippos performed in the first round against the title hopefuls Heathens and Kobs, it is obvious to see that their defense breaks apart and their attack shies away condemning them to ugly defeats. Hippos conceded a combined 111 points and scored a humble 12 against Heathens & Kobs, both matches away from home.

Scott Oluoch v Hippos

However, the second round kicked off on a good note for Hippos as they beat Impis, 15-05, at home and they will hope that this win will motivate them against the leaders at the same venue.

Heathens’ tally of ball-handling errors is high for a team that boasts of the best forward pack in the league. I believe Hippos need to cause Heathens to commit those errors which will break their momentum in attack, and give them a chance to possess the ball.

Hippos’ possession in the match will be limited, but they should be glad to defend against Heathens as far as they can from their own territory. This will call for strong dominant tackles and strategic territorial kicking that will cause Heathens to exit their territory with the boot. Hippos can then make use of their quick backs to counter-attack against a retreating defense.

Whether Hippos have the arsenal for this task or not, will be seen this weekend at their home ground at Dam Waters Rugby Club, Jinja but their opponents are in such great shape that denying them the victory is near-impossible.

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

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