The 2021 Nile Special Stout Rugby Premier League season comes down one game on Saturday as Kobs host Black Pirates.
Three points separate the two teams and the work is cut out. Kobs who top the standing heading into the tie need at least a draw to be crowned while Pirates have to secure a bonus point win to win their second league title in history.
Each side is without five would be starters who are involved in a national sevens engagement in South Africa.
Thus the respective coaches, Davis Kyewalabye (Kobs) and Robert Musinguzi (Pirates), have looked down their squad for the title decider.
Kyewalabye made a bold call to use a makeshift scrum-half in Edgar Sseruwagi (a midfielder) with a natural in Brian Ochan waiting from the bench. Robert Masendi takes on the creative duties while James Ijongat will have the entire pitch in front of him. Alhaji Manano who excelled in the back row last season joins Justin Kimono in midfield in the absence of Ian Munyani.
Kobs have Pius Ogena back from a reported shoulder injury and he will be the key player for the hosts at the base of the scrum. A strong career of the ball, Ogena will put a lot pressure on Pirates defense as Kobs are likely to play through their forwards more.
On the other hand, Pirates are expected to play through their backline more. Muzinguzi has Raymond Emanzi and Timothy Odong back in the starting team as well as James Mugisha who joins William Nkore in midfield and puck Muhammad Haruna to fullback.
What to expect…
Given the weight of their pack, Kobs will most likely dominate at the scrum, and star lock Robert Aziku along with Ecodu give them an edge in the line-out as well. It’s not outrageous to conclude that the home side has an edge in set pieces.
Pirates have relied on their backline for tries and in a game where their opponents have a better pack, the Sea Robbers will play how they know best and that’s expansive. Flyhalf Ivan Magomu has been in fine form since his return to the game and along with first center William Nkore they will harness the scoring ability of Emanzi, Odong, and Haruna.
Discipline will be key for either side. Ijongat and Kobs beat rivals Heathens off the tee and on the other hand, Magomu has been good with his boot.
KOBs XV: 1. Brian Odong 2. Faraj Odugo 3. Collin Kimbowa 4. Robert Aziku 5. Emmanuel Echodu 6. Brian Asaba 7. Derrick Tukwasiibwe 8. Pius Ogena 9. Edgar Sseruwagi 10. Robert Masendi 11. Daudi Ssemwami 12. Justin Kimono 13. Alhaji Manano 14. Karim Arinaitwe 15. James Ijongat
Replacements: 16. Brian Opar 17. Saul Kivumbi 18. Paul Sekate 19. Aaron Jurua 20. Trevor Maina 21. Brian Ochan 22. Josaiah Ssempeke 23. Keith Sseruyange
Pirates XV: 1. Ivan Kabagambe 2. Nathan Bwambale 3. Alema Ruhweza 4. Frank Kidega 5. Abel Agum 6. Ivan Cadri 7. Humphrey Tashobya 8. Isaac Rujumba 9. Conrad Wanyama 10. Ivan Magomu 11. Timothy Odong 12. William Nkore 13. James Mugisha 14. Raymond Emanzi 15. Muhammad Haruna
Replacements: 16: Sunday Jaguar 17. Peter Tinashe 18. Kenneth Matovu 19. Sydney Gongodyo 20. Moses Zziwa 21. Stephen Alul 22. William Mucunguzi 23. Arnold Atukunda