In what was deemed as a test of depth for the surprise outfit of the season, the Warriors faced off with the Toyota Buffaloes, a team that had gone from strength to strength in the league.
The Warriors came into this tie well aware that this was the beginning of a stretch of games that would define their title challenge going into the second round of fixtures; Buffaloes before the Christmas break was the first huddle.
With the East African University games stripping 7 players from the impressively cohesive Warriors squad, much of the old guard had to stand up and be counted to a task against a team that had recently obliterated Shell Rimula Rhinos and the Barbarians of Walukuba amassing more than 100 points from both games.
The game was tipped to be no push over and such was the case from kick off, an early moment of brilliance from hooker Syrus Wathum almost saw the DusuPay sponsored team cross the line but some last gasp defending by the Kyadondo outfit kept them in the game. From then on, Buffaloes seemed to take full control with wave after wave of attack, pinning the men in purple in their own half.
Despite all the pressure, the Buffaloes failed to crack the Warriors whose defensive efforts have been the biggest factor in their purple patch displays. Toyota Buffaloes only had 3 Sseguya Wilfred penalties to show for all the work they did against a solitary Richard Kinyai three pointer ; 9-3 it was to the visitors.
Just as half time was beckoning, Warriors did what they have done best – defend, study the opponent and turn defense into offense. The Warriors started to build into the game despite some very appalling refereeing decisions that frustrated not only the players but also the bench and the growing crowds of Warriors fans that were finding their voice.
A line break from Ntungire Ivan a.k.a “Trekka” saw the big number 8 gain as many metres as he could before offloading to Victor Wangobo in what was a typical forward-esque display. From that surge into the Buffaloes half, Warriors pushed the Buffaloes to their try line. The impressive Victor Wangobo thought he had dotted down for his first for the club but was ruled to be held up by referee Rosenburg.
The Warriors decided to utilise their bigger forwards who shoved the smaller opposition pack back towards their own line with everyone shouting for a penalty try but the referee stood her ground. From the resulting play an offload to Nelson Mandela opened a gap that the centre took, diving in for the 5 pointer, Kinyai made no mistake from the tee; 10-09 it was to the Warriors at the interval.
The second started in similar fashion, the Buffaloes were determined not to let this one slip away with many reinforcements coming on to get the scores they needed. The DusuPay Warriors defence stood firm, holding out the Buffaloes charges. Most notably when Henry Musisi expertly dived under the ball to hold it up in the try area as Marlon Adebua thought he was in for the score. And when the Warriors finally got the ball, they made the Kyadondo team pay.
First with another expert boot from Richard Kinyai sending the score to 13-09, then another moment of individual brilliance coupled with superb support play saw Kinyai go through the gain line beating two players before giving the ball to Nelson Mandela yet again who dotted down for his and the team’s second try of the game. Kinyai was red hot from the boot making sure that it was a full 7 – 20-09 to the home team.
From then on, it was all Warriors with a very vocal set of fans behind them, the team huffed and puffed for the crucial bonus point which almost came but captain Komakech Akera failed to stretch his hand when he was stopped millimetres from the try line. It was advantage and to the crowd’s surprise, the team opted to go for the points and not the power play, the mercurial Kinyai slotted home and the referee blew the final whistle – 23-09 was how it ended with the Buffaloes not getting any points in the second half while the Warriors failed to get the bonus point putting them a point behind Heathens who made easy work of the Barbarians in Walukuba.
Man of the match was Richard Kinyai deservedly, with the team giving their faithfuls a well earned Christmas gift. The league breaks off till the 5th of January.