Time To Wrap Up The Series

After four legs, spanning six weeks and four counties it is time to wrap up the 2014 Safaricom sevens series. At the spiritual home of rugby in the region, for the 50th edition of Kenya’s grandest sevens tournament, the Christie Sevens.

As we head into the last leg, one thing is for sure, KCB have already done enough to defend the title they lifted last year. The Lions have had a blistering campaign, hogging the series’ top spot from the first leg.

Dennis Ombachi wrapped up in a tackle by KCB players

Dennis Ombachi wrapped up in a tackle by KCB players

Though there is a mathematical chance of them failing to clinch that overall title, it doesn’t seem humanly possible. They go into this leg on 85 points, Homeboyz who are the only ones who can rain on the Lions’ party on Sunday, are second on 68 points with Nakuru on 61 points in third.

Pool A

The race for the overall title could be over by the close of Day one as the two contenders find themselves pitted together in what can only be described as the pool of death. KCB headline this one and are joined by the last two sides to beat them in Homeboyz and Impala, with the other side being JKUAT.

There’s not much more we could say about this KCB side, they have been in a class of their own. Their last hurdle though looks to be the trickiest they have faced this year, a place in the cup competition on day 2 will assure them the series title.

The Lions were in the same situation last year where they only needed to make the cup quarter final in this tournament to lift the overall title. In true character they went on to lift the Christie title and the series title, I expect them to go for the double here once again.

The squad should remain largely unchanged from the one that picked up the Prinsloo title, with a possible place for club captain Andrew Amonde. Ken Moseti and Darwin Mukidza are still sidelined with injury.

After their triumph in Mombasa which momentarily opened up the title race, Homeboyz went on to slip up in Nakuru, bowing out at the cup quarter final. They will be looking to do their part, beat KCB and go all the way at the weekend, while hoping KCB not only fail to make the cup, but also the Bowl semi finals.

Max Kang'eri of Homeboyz about to cover a ruck against Impala

Max Kang’eri of Homeboyz about to cover a ruck against Impala

The side will still be without Leonard Mugaisi through injury, and might be without inspirational centre Oscar Ayodi.They however welcome back their head coach Paul Murunga to the touch line for the first time in the series, his influence should be vital to the side.

Impala have had an unlucky run over the last two legs, failing to make the cup competition, but picking themselves up on Day 2 and going on to lift the Bowl on both occasions. The red shirts currently lie in 7th spot on 44 points, with a possible top five finish within their reach they will be looking for a strong finish to the season.

JKUAT will be happy to have finally made to the top flight, after reaching the Division II final in Nakuru. But looking at the Pool they find themselves in, it will be an uphill task for the Juja boys. Their main goal at the weekend should be to maintain Division 1 status for next season.

Pool B

The constantly improving Nakuru have so far played in a Bowl Semi final, finished fourth, third and most recently second. Could this be their time to finally pick up a cup title? They come up against the Strathmore Leos, Nondies and Mean Machine in this pool.

Those results see the Wanyore lie in third on 61 points, though there is no way they could win the overall title, they have a great chance of lifting the Christie title. The side will probably remain unchanged from the one that made it to the cup final at their backyard.

Charles Owino of Strathmore against Philip Kwame of Nakuru

Charles Owino of Strathmore against Philip Kwame of Nakuru

Leslie Ochieng will again lead the attack, alongside Victor Shigholi, Geoffrey Ominde and Allan Odiyo. Edwins Makori, Kelvin Omiyo and the Prinsloo MVP Charles Odhiambo are set to add grit to the side.

The Wanyore will face their toughest competition in this pool from the Strathmore Leos who they were pooled against last weekend. The Leos once again failed to make it past the cup quarter finals in Nakuru and find themselves in 5th spot on 51 points.

The Leos will be out for a better spot on the log at the close of business on Sunday, and finally get past the cup quarter like they did in the opening leg of the series. The likes of Churchill Ooko, Elton Isiaho, Adrian Opondo, Samuel Motari and Charles Owino will be vital to their campaign here.

Nondies have had consistent season so far, two plate semi finals, a bowl final and a bowl win sees them placed 9th on 35 points, four behind 8th placed Western Bulls.

After a promising show in Mombasa where they stretched KCB all the way in the cup quarter finals, the white shirts found themselves in the Bowl competition they will be out for a strong finish here.

After failing to make the trip to Dala, Mean Machine found themselves playing in the second division in Mombasa and Nakuru before finally earning promotion after winning the division in Nakuru.

For a club of their stature, Eschuma will be out to show that they are back where they belong, by claiming some scalps early on in this pool.

Pool C

Mwamba RFC headline Pool C and are joined by Kabras Sugar, Catholic Monks and Mombasa.

Kulabu have managed to pick themselves up in style after the dismal showing in Kisumu. Most notably in Mombasa they did it with virtually the same squad that turned up for the Dala leg.

The side currently lies in 6th spot on 49 points, with a top three finish still within their reach. The black shirts will look to go a step further than they did in Nakuru and claim their first sevens cup title in two seasons.

Collins Injera under the attention of two Monks.

Collins Injera under the attention of two Monks.

They will however be without Dan Sikuta who sits out this leg due to injury and welcome back inspirational fly half Lavin Asego who last featured in the opening leg. The rest of the squad remains as was in Nakuru, apart from the possible inclusion of a certain old boy.

Kabras Sugar have been on the ascendancy, a Shield Semi final, a Shield win followed by a Plate Semi final and a Plate final. Those results see the sugar millers in 11th spot on 26 points.

The inclusion of the Uganda duo of Philip Wokorach and Emmanuel Ecodu added the much needed spark to the side in Nakuru. The two combining well with Nick Barasa, Steve Oluoch and the nippy Oscar Okaran.

After a promising start to the season, where they finished second in the Plate following this up with a Bowl title in Kisumu. The Monks have so far seemed to hit a plateau, bowing out at the Bowl semi finals at the last two legs.

They will be out to make a strong finish to what has been an exemplary season for them, all this while weary of Kabras who are only 4 points behind them.

Mombasa did great in holding on to top flight status in Nakuru, after reaching the Shield final. They will be looking to keep this status going into the coming season here.

Pool D

After finally breaking the cup quarter final barrier, Western Bulls headline Pool D where they are joined by hosts Harlequins, Kisumu RFC and Masaku.

The Echulusi finally hit the right notes in Nakuru, when they resoundingly beat Homeboyz in the cup quarter final on their way to finishing 4th. They now lie in 8th spot on 39 points.

Cyrus Kuya of Western Bulls releases a pass to Bram Shikhanda

Cyrus Kuya of Western Bulls releases a pass to Bram Shikhanda

The side look to be having a straight forward route to the cup in this pool their biggest challengers to top spot being Quins. The axis of Davis Chenge, Elkins Musonye, Solomon Obiero and Bram Shikhanda will be vital to their fortunes here.

The hosts come into their backyard off a Plate win in Nakuru and currently lie 4th on 54 points, 3 more than Strathmore and 7 behind Nakuru. Last time they were in the capital, they went all the way to the cup final.

They will be working towards the same fortunes, but this time to go all the way and lift the Christie title on the tournament’s Jubilee edition. The quartered shirts will most probably welcome back Patrice Agunda and Felix Ayange to bolster the squad, which already has the likes of Kevin Keegan, Arthur Ochieng, Eden Agero and Max Theuri.

Kisumu RFC have been the Bowl specialists in this series with two semi finals and a final so far, the other result being a shield final at the Kabeberi leg. Those results see the Kondele boys in 12th on 19 points, with their closest challengers on the log being Daystar who are in the second division, the only way for them is up.

After picking up the Shield in Nakuru, Masaku will be up to set their sights on the Bowl or even start claiming some scalps early on in this pool, but their primary objective should be to maintain Division I status.

On the individual accolades front, Jacob Ojee leads the top try scorer charts, with 19 tries so far. He picked up this title last year alongside the Most valuable player of the series.

This year he looks set for the top try scorer one as the his closest challengers in Dan Sikuta and Leonard Mugaisi, both on 18 tries will sit out the Christie leg due to injury.

His closest challengers at the weekend will be Richard Sidindi of Impala who has so far gone over the white 14 times. His KCB team mates Edwin Salamba and Oliver Mangeni both on 13 tries each.

The race for the top points scorer looks to be a three horse race , Nato Simiyu of Impala leads the way on 126 points followed by Augustine Lugonzo on 117 points.With Edwin Salamba rounding up the top three with 101 points.

The Division II pooling is as follows :

Pool J: Bungoma, TUK, UoE, Bungoma Sharks
Pool I: Eldoret, Kisii, Stormers, MKU Nairobi
Pool H: Blak Blad, MKU Thika, Makueni, Molo
Pool G: Thika, Comras, Moi Uni, Machakos
Pool F: KCA, Kiambu, Masinde Muliro, KPA Eldoret
Pool E: Daystar, Brumbies, Egerton, Homa Bay

KWISHA….Nimeruka Nje!!!!

What do you think?

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