It Is Now or Never At The Christie 7s
If the 2019 Stanbic National Sevens Series was a marathon, we could say that the teams are now at the wall or ‘mile 22’ mark.
Mile 22 (35 Kms) is widely believed to be the toughest point of a marathon, where your body almost gives up, this is where the winners are separated from the pretenders.
As we head into the Christie sevens, we have five teams in the leading pack, KCB, Stanbic Mwamba, Top Fry Nakuru RFC, Menengai Cream Homeboyz and Menengai Oilers, all who have a real shot at winning the overall series title.
Expect that list to be down to three or even one side after the Christie sevens and with the teams at full strength, expect a great show of sevens rugby at the weekend. Let’s take a closer look at the top five and their chances of lifting the series title.
Menengai Oilers (61) – Two cup finals, one fourth place finish and one bowl title. That has been the Oilers’ campaign so far. While they have been playing some great rugby, the Oilers have struggled against physically dominating sides.
While the two wins against KCB give hope, the Oilers need to stand up and get over this bullying, especially in the big games. To win the series, they will need the maximum 44 points on offer and hope the guys above stumble.
They are pooled against KCB, Northern Suburbs and Daystar Falcons in Pool D, topping this pool should give them a great start to the tournament with a quarter final berth against the second side in Pool C which might be Kabras Sugar or MMUST.
Top Fry Nakuru RFC (64) – The Perennial semi finalists, the Wanyore seem to be unable to get past the Cup semi, finishing fourth, third, fourth and third consecutively in the series so far.
They have been the most consistent side in the series, unfortunately that consistency hasn’t really helped them, yet. Theirs has been a tale of an inability to kill off games and falling on the wrong side of the ref’s calls, depending on who you ask.
Like their neighbours, the Wanyore need to get the maximum 44 points and hope that the rest of the teams above them stumble, especially Homeboyz, if they are to win the series.
The Wanyore start their Christie campaign from Pool C, where they play against Kabras, MMUST and Blak blad. It looks like they will top this pool, what they need to worry about is who finishes second in Pool D, between KCB and Oilers, I wonder who they would prefer?
Menengai Cream Homeboyz (64) – Two cup finals and two fifth place finishes, that has been the DJs story so far in the series.
It has been a tale of hot and cold, but not hot enough and not really cold. They have so far failed to hit the heights they did last season, but still have a realistic chance of defending the series title, like the two sides behind them, they need to win the next two legs and hope the people above them falter.
The DJs play against Quins, Impala and visiting Stanbic Pirates from Uganda in a very tricky looking pool. It could get very bad, very quickly for the Homeboyz if they slip up here they will most probably set up a cup quarter final match against Mwamba.
Stanbic Mwamba (69) – Two titles, a bowl and a third place finish, when Kulabu have been good, they have been virtually unplayable, but when they have misfired, it has been bad.
Everything good that has come out from this side has had something to do with the maestro, Collins Injera. When they dropped to the Bowl in Dala, Collo was not around, when he came back, they won in Prinsloo, coincidence? I don’t think so.
Mwamba have been great in the second tournaments of the back to back legs, they finished third in Kakamega then won Kabeberi, struggled in Dala before winning in Prinsloo. It is the first tournament after a break that the black shirts seem to struggle with. They will need to break that trend if they are to win a first series title since 2011.
While the pressure to win everything might not be as much on Mwamba as it is on the teams below, they will at least need to finish two places above KCB in the next two events to ensure the series title.
Kulabu start their mile 22 run against Strathmore Leos, Nondies and Egerton in Pool A, the black shirts should easily top this one, with an eye on Pool B, where they might meet Impala or Quins.
KCB (72) – Two titles, a fourth place and fifth place finish, like Kulabu, when the bankers have been good they have been superb, but when they misfired it has been an eye sore.
While Mwamba have struggled with the breaks, KCB have struggled with second tournament in back to back tournaments. They won in Kakamega, struggled in Meru, won in Dala, struggled in Prinsloo. It will be a trend that they will be looking to get rid of if they are to hold on to the top spot.
Their route to the title, needs them to finish at least two places above Mwamba in the two legs, with Kulabu holding a better points difference, they can not afford to finish tied on points.
The Lions start their campaign in a tricky Pool D, where they face the Menengai Oilers who have beaten them twice in three meetings, Northern Suburbs and Daystar.
If they manage to beat the Oilers and top the Pool, it should give them a great morale boost heading into day two of the tournament, where they will face either MMUST or Kabras. A loss to the Oilers will make things even tougher with a probable quarter final berth against Nakuru.
It is bound to be the battle of the ages at the Christie sevens as teams jostle to improve their placings on the leaderboard, given the prize money involved.
Also watch out for the ladies sevens tournament which will run concurrently with the division one fixtures.
KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!