Tawfik Bagalana Credit: Edgar Hamala
  • RESULT: Rhinos 14-26 Jinja Hippos

Despite having a slow start, Jinja Hippos recovered in style with their swift backline to send Rhinos back to the bottom of the Nile Special Stout Rugby Premier League during matchday 12 at Legends.

It was a strong start for Rhinos who struck first through full-back Sulaiman Ngobi in the 7th minute but captain Arnold Kiiza missed the conversion. Rhinos continued to knock at Hippos’ door but the visitors’ defense would not let them through as the clock continued to tick away in the first half.

Rhinos defend at the breakdown

Hippos scored in their first real opportunity of the game after 33 minutes when speedster Denis Etwau was at the end of a long floating pass from flyhalf John Echeru that skipped 3 players. Etwau dived in the corner for the try to level matters but Maxwell Ebong’s conversion was short.

Etwau scored almost immediately after as a poorly executed long restart kick from Rhinos was quickly shuffled to the open side wing by the efficient Hippos backline. Etwau pinned his ears back and sped through the Rhinos defense to touch down under the poles.

Ebong added the extras easily to give Hippos a 05-12 lead.

Kiiza cut the deficit to 4 points with a well-struck penalty in the last play of the first half.

Even with Sulaiman in the bin early in the second half, Rhinos looked strong and destined for victory as Arnold slotted another penalty through the uprights to make it a one-point game at 11-12.

Hippos’ response didn’t take long as Ebong scored and converted his own try just before the hour mark to extend the lead even further to 11-19.

Moments later, Echeru danced his way through Rhinos’ defense in the red zone with some fancy footwork and dummies before offloading to Tawfiq Bagalana as Hippos secured the bonus-point victory.

With the loss done & dusted, Rhinos needed to secure a losing bonus point for themselves to help in their relegation battles. Kiiza converted another penalty to make it 14-26 and Rhinos came within just a try of the bonus point.

Rhinos got a man’s advantage when Kabale Patrick was sent to the bin for repeated infringement just before the last play but their relentless attack in the Hippos red zone was in vain as they could not breach the defense.

Hippos thus stepped back into 6th place above Warriors while Rhinos slipped back to the bottom of the log with only 6 matches left to play.

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

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