The 18/19 Kenya Cup Last Four In Numbers
After 17 match days, the race to the One Million Kenya Shillings prize that comes with the title of ‘2018/19 Kenya Cup Champion’ is now down to four teams.
League leaders Kabras Sugar RFC alongside defending champions KCB booked their ticket to the last four after finishing within the top two positions at the end of the regular season.
Mwamba RFC and Kenya Harlequins had to get past Nakuru RFC and the Impala Saracens respectively, to reach the semi final stage of what has been an exciting season so far.
Stanbic Mwamba RFC are probably my pick for ‘surprise package’ in the four, Kulabu travelled to the NAC, from the back of a 71-19 drubbing at the hands of Impala in an Enterprise Cup quarter final encounter. The black shirts hadn’t won at the NAC in years, my radar disappeared somewhere in the early 2000s, their last meeting in the league had ended in a 29-15 result in favour of the Mnyore.
Realising that they needed to get their house in order, the black shirts opted not to play in annual Great rift ten-a-side tournament, directing all their energies to preparing for the Kenya Cup play off match.
A decision that paid off handsomely, as Mwamba went on to beat Nakuru 18-17 after trailing 12-8 at the half time break. To book a semi final clash at the Kakamega Forest against Kabras Sugar RFC.
The Quin had a more straightforward path to the semi final, seeing off their next door neighbours Impala, 29-24, to set up a date against KCB.
So how do the four sides look on paper, heading into the semi finals?
STANBIC MWAMBA RFC
The black shirts will be making their second appearance in the Kenya Cup semi finals, since the league adopted the play off format in the 2012/13 season. Their other appearance came in that same season when they eventually finished fourth.
As mentioned earlier, Kulabu are the surprise package of the season, reaching the semi final after losing their opening three matches of the season. At that point their goose was all but cooked, they however revived said fowl with four wins on the trot, completing the regular season with a similar count of wins and losses, eight.
Then following it up with that win against Nakuru at the NAC, for a win rate of 53%. The black shirts have so far scored a total of 440 points (25.85 points on average) while conceding 411 points (24.17 points on average), meaning they have so far really ground out their wins. Their biggest win margin was a 47-25 result against relegated Strathmore Leos.
Everything good from Kevin Wambua’s side has come from that man Collins Injera, who has gone over the white line 23 times, the joint best tally in the league. Injera has directly contributed to 26% of the club’s total points tally, you bet that number would sky rocket if we had tracked the numbers of assists he has.
Alongside Collo, Mwamba’s core has been mainly around the young Tony Omondi who is the second highest point scorer in the club, with a total of 60 points, 50 of those from the boot, including the three that got Mwamba this semi final slot. Tony Owuor, Billy Odhiambo, Deus Mudaki, Steve Sikuta and the scrum half duo of Martin Oyugi and Eugene Nzioka are the other notable names in the side.
The black shirts travel to the dreaded Kakamega forest where they face hot favourites Kabras Sugar RFC, the last time the two met, Kulabu were left licking their wounds after a 46-15 defeat. Mwamba have beaten Kabras once in the league since the latter’s promotion, a 22-17 result in the 2014/15 season at the Railway Club.
In the last five seasons, Kulabu has met Kabras in the league, on six occasions, winning once, drawing once and losing the rest.
They would have watched Kabras dismantling Quins at the Enterprise Cup semi final and know what to expect but more importantly prepare for it.
Mwamba’s run has been one anchored on sheer determination and a never say die spirit, the best of which probably came in the return match against KCB and this play off win at Nakuru. With numbers and previous form counting for very little at this stage, you would not right off Mwamba’s chances to making it to the final and even winning the title this season.
Quins have managed to go about their season with nothing much to write home about, on their way to making a fourth appearance at the Kenya Cup semi finals, if you add the one in 2010, when the league went to the playoffs, this will be their fifth time at the semis.
A start stop opening to the season saw them lose two and win two in the first four weeks, before putting together a run of four straight wins, eventually closing the regular season on ten wins from 16 matches with one draw and five losses. To see them finish in third on 53 points.
In the postseason Charles Cardovillis’ charges sit on a win rate of 65%, so far they have score a total of 448 points (26.35 points on average) while conceding 329 points (19.35 points on average), a decent return for the side.
Quins star man has been Lyle Asiligwa, who has a return of 66 points, 14% of the club’s total all of these coming off his boot.
The workhorse that is Patrice Agunda has so far scored 9 tries, the most in the club, captain Peter Misango is on 7 tries while Jasper Ochen who has been sharing kicking duties with Lyle, sits on 35 points. The spark of Eden Agero alongside the likes of David Ambunya, Frank Wanyama, Alex Olaba has also been key to their season.
Quins make the short trip to the Lion’s den to take on defending champions KCB in what is expected to be a nail biting encounter. Both these sides come into the fixture off losses at the cup semi finals at the weekend, with Quins reeling from a 54-11 loss at the hands of Kabras, while the Lion will limp into this one off a narrow 10-11 loss to Impala.
The last time these two met in the league, KCB were made to work hard for the 24-10 final result at the den, it was a similar story when these two faced off at a similar stage in the 2016/17 season, with KCB edging Quins 19-12 at the same venue.
Since the 2014/15 season, Quins have met KCB seven times in the league, winning two of those fixtures and losing the rest.
Quins have been impressive on their day but also really disappointing when they decide to, depending on which side shows up on the day, expect a real battle on Saturday afternoon.
KCB RUGBY CLUB
Despite one loss in 16 matches, the Lions have had a lukewarm season according to their lofty standards, however they will be making their 7th straight appearance in a Kenya cup semi final, 8 if you count the 2010 one.
More impressively, KCB has not finished the league outside the top four since 2001, their worst placing being a fourth place finish in the 2015/16 season, when they lost to Quins 36-29 in the third place play off.
Curtis Olago’s team seems to be playing with the proverbial handbrake on, a loss to Nondies early in the season and more close calls than we can count, has had many question their title credentials. Their major highlight of the season came on game week 11 when they swept away Kabras 44-20 at a packed Impala Club, they have not played at the same level, since.
The green shirts sit on a win rate of 94%, having scored 519 points (32.43 on average) while letting in 186 (11.62 points on average), pointing to the fact that their season has been built on a solid defensive line.
While most other clubs have that one player who rakes in all the points, KCB seem to have spread that responsibility especially after the loss of Darwin Mukidza to a long injury lay off on match day 11.
The smiling assassin still remains the club’s top points scorer on 64 points, 54 of those coming from the boot. Oliver Mangeni leads the club’s try scorers’ list off 7 tries, with Isaac Njoroge, Michael Wanjala, Jacob Ojee and Esau Otieno all contributing upwards of 30 points each, this season.
KCB will be hosting Kenya Harlequins at the den, in a must win match if they are to get any silverware this season, after their challenge for the double went up in smoke off an Anthony Odhiambo penalty.
Like their opponents at the weekend, when KCB have been in the mood, they have been virtually unplayable, but they have had a knack for leaving the back door open for sides to creep back into matches this season.
If they do come into this one without a padlock for the door, they might just see their season end in tears.
KABRAS SUGAR RFC
The sugar men have been by far the hot favourites for this year’s title and rightfully so, apart from that blip against KCB, Kabras have been in imperious form, blowing past all other opposition on their way to making their 5th straight Kenya Cup semi final appearance. This stat is even more impressive when you consider that they are only 5 years old in the league.
15 wins from 16 matches means the sugar men sit on a 94% win rate, scoring a massive 670 points (41.87 on average) while conceding 205 (12.81 points on average), in so many numbers, Kabras have been brutal with ball in hand and they seem to hold on to it more than anyone else in the league.
Their star man has most definitely been the Ugandan maestro Phillip Wokorach, who has been as devastating with the ball in hand, as he has when it is on the kicking tee. 189 points, 68 of those from the boot, means he accounts for 28% of the club’s total tally, like Injera that number would most certainly increase if we had tracked assists.
Jonah Kubu is second on the club’s scoring list, on 57 points, while Brian Tanga and Kevin Keegan both have more than 40 points this season, Felix Ayange is three shy of the 40 mark.
Henley Du Plessis’ charges have been on title winning form and they find themselves challenging for an unprecedented quadruple with the Kenya Cup, Enterprise Cup, ESS and Mwamba Cups still firmly in their sights.
They host Mwamba RFC from the back of an impressive 54-11 drubbing of Quins and they will be looking to build on that momentum to make it five finals from five in the league. Kabras are yet to lose a home fixture this season and they will be banking on their passionate home support to carry them through to the final.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are in for a super Saturday of rugby, add to that the Nationwide finals between the Nothern Suburbs and Eldoret RFC at the Catholic grounds, the two having already booked slots in the 2019/2020 Championship.
Nairobi will also host the two Championship semi finals, with Catholic University taking on Kisumu as USIU host Western Bulls for the two coveted tickets to the big league, the Kenya Cup.
Wherever you chose to enjoy your rugby weekend from, do have a scintillating one and let’s compare notes on Monday.
KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!