Uganda Cup 2018 has been exciting for a number of reasons and without a doubt, the most exciting pair has leaped to the last huddle. 50 plus points in the round of 16, close contests in the quarters and a stark contrast of results in the semis – the journey to the final has been somewhat similar. Here are some very interesting aspects that any rugby enthusiast should look forward to come Saturday :-
The lineout department has been very good for both sides who have shown competitiveness and top notch hooker-jumper coordination. Robert Aziku has slotted in perfectly well, one could think he has been there for centuries; bringing much needed expertise as the lineout commander and main jumper, assisted by Timothy Mudoola and Brian Asaba.
Pirates have had three candidates take charge on three different occasions, with all doing the job effectively ; Richard Odokere, Frank Kidega and Kelvin Balagadde have all been impressive at lineout time taking what is theirs and what isn’t. Whoever gets the nod as the chief line out man will contribute to an epic battle.
The front row’s impact at scrum downs
In last weekend’s semi final, Kobs utilised the scrum to full effect against rivals Heathens ; it was a big part of what got the men in blue on the front foot – a lot of credit goes to Adnan Mutebi and Collins Kimbowa who stepped to give their team the advantage.
Pirates haven’t had much of a test in scrummaging – the likes of Pajob Edgar even had a lot of spare time to amass a host of carries because of the excess unchallenged energy. This final will definitely put that to the test – both sides will be willing to get it right from the get go so as to bully their opposite numbers and provide the perfect platform to win penalties needed for points or territory.
Everyone loves this shirt but not the pressure it comes with, the cojourners to make the right decision when needed and the steel to try the unexpected, not forgetting that vitality of game management. Pirates puppeteer and general Ivan Magomu will definitely sit in the driver’s seat for the men in red and black while it will be interesting to see who the Kobs coaches go with.
Ivan Kirabo was basic at best, doing the simple things right but not really threatening the defence – at the back of his mind, he will be aware of James Ijongat and Joseph Aredo who are all seasoned fly halves. The last thing you would want is for your fly half to lose his head in a game of such magnitude – whoever dons the shirt has his work cut out for him against Uganda’s number one fly half.
The Kobs versus Heathens semi final had the worst kicking display I have seen in a while ; probably since Piri Weepu lost his kicking mojo at some stage of the 2007 world cup in New Zealand. Whoever Kobs select as their first choice kicker will be is crucial – Aredo with the simple but sure technique, James Ijongat with the bigger distance or Ivan Kirabo who is yet to impress. On the red end, Conrad Wanyama has been
Pirates first choice kicker for quite a while now; I would think Ivan Magomu is a better kicker but opts out of these duties for reasons best known to Pirates. Not forgetting that the defending champions have Joel Anguyo who would be a viable option provided he is available to play.
Bobby Musinguzi isn’t a young man but is definitely still considered among the new kids on the block, he faces the returning Fred Mudoola who served his time as both player and coach ; winning trophies with Namilyango, Kobs and Uganda as a coach and a player – he took a break to do other things in life, getting married in the mix and now returns fresh and hungry.
It’s a case of the new hand book against the old guru’s notes ; how the teams lineup, what areas of play both teams focus on and the impact of substitutions made will be key. Rugby tends to be like chess and only the smart move their pawns right.
Emotions and discipline
One thing is certain, Saturday’s game is going to have flaring tempers, points to prove and a do or die attitude which will definitely boil up at one point or the other. The ability to keep one’s marbles in check will be crucial to the focus on the job at hand and the final result.
Don’t quote me wrong, emotion is a good motivator but too much of it can lead to silly mistakes, unnecessary cards and unwarranted penalties that can all cost a team.
Uganda Cup finals
Saturday – 4:00 pm
Legends Rugby Club