Walukuba Barbarians on Saturday evening’s matchday five action became the latest team to register their first win this season when they beat Rams. The 16-11 victory at Makerere left Rams and Rhinos in the undesirable race for the wooden spoon.
“We have been patiently waiting for a win this season and I think it has come at the right time, at the peak of the team’s performance. Losing the previous three games narrowly showed that there is something the team is up to,” Barbarians coach Leonard Lubambula told Kawowo Sports.
There were hints of the win coming sooner, as far back as matchday two against another Makerere outfit Impis. Walukuba had a man advantage for about twenty-five minutes but did not make it count as the still-unbeaten Impis held on for an 18-11 result. The weekend later, an impressive first-half performance at Kyadondo was in vain as Buffaloes rallied back to win by 25-13.
And when they played at home after three matches on the road, victory was snatched from their hands at the death by Mongers (27-25) after leading for most of the eighty minutes. At that moment at the Abbey Dhaira (formerly Tobacco) Stadium, you could hear the River Nile flowing gently towards the Mediterranean.
Lubambula says his charges were denied victory in those due to their discipline. With the ball at the breakdown but especially without it in the same contact area. Walukuba have the highest yellow card count (5) in the league.
“The on-pitch discipline cost us most of the opponents’ points, giving unnecessary possession of the ball (to them) at a wrong zone. And this is something we worked on. (We) had an opportunity to secure Saudah Adiru, the Training & Education Manager and also a top referee to teach the law of the game,” he said to Kawowo Sports and also during the weekly review Twitter Space hosted by the Fat Cats Podcast where he was a guest speaker.
In Rams, Walukuba found a team they matched pound-for-pound, at least on paper, and whose run of fixtures is similar to theirs. Both had lost to Kobs by over fifty points, succumbed to late pressure from Mongers, and settled for the losing bonus point against Impis. Rams drew 03-03 with Rhinos, whom Walukuba host next.
Against the Makerere outfit, a combination of correcting their discipline and holding onto the ball longer resulted in some brilliant displays from Walukuba. They were able to string together more phases and played on the front foot in the right territories.
Case in point, their only try in the match scored by outside center Reuben Kagwitsagye in the fifteenth minute. It is from a scrum just outside the 22 metre territory, to the left of the uprights. Eighthman Denis Wakaye picks from the back of the scrum and offloads to flyhalf Gift Wokorach who quickly shuffles it to inside center Shakim Sembusi. Kagwitsagye runs a late line from the back door to receive a back-in pass between the opposite flyhalf Hossana Opileni and center Hashim Kabogoza who are both rushing to cover the outside. From there, he beats the cross-covering defenders in quick steps to score under the uprights.
Walukuba denied Rams, who had led 11-10 at the break, a sniff of their try area in the second half. They were able to get ahead and win with two penalties from player of the match Sembusi.
“(We) Dominated the set pieces and executed 47% of our game model. I asked the players to get into the game early and try very much not to chase the game which has been a challenge in the previous three games. When we got into the last quarter of the game, we were in the lead all we had to do was to keep the ball more,” Lubambula added.
Walukuba overcame a seasoned premiership outfit who are currently at a rough patch. Coming up ahead are Rhinos whose season is still at the bottom of the crest and thereafter, more stable and experienced teams up the table.
The challenge will only get tougher for the boys who just came to the party but the night is still young. If Walukuba can do more of what they did in the previous match, it will bring an interesting twist to the relegation battle.