5 Talking Points From The Prinsloo 7s

Four legs down, two to go and we have the race to the 2019 Stanbic National sevens series title, that we have all been hoping for.

After the Prinsloo sevens, the difference between the current leaders KCB and 5th placed Menengai Oilers is 11 points, the Lions hold a narrow three point lead over Mwamba, who in turn hold a five point lead over the duo of Homeboyz and Nakuru. Any of these five stand a chance of lifting the series title on the evening of September 8th at the Mombasa Sports Club.

Back to Nakuru and what stood out ;

1. Could this be the return of Nakuru? Over the past couple of years, Nakuru has steadily lost grip of its title as the ‘rugby town of choice’ with dwindling numbers at every passing event. This weekend however the numbers were definitely better than I have seen in the past six or so years, the dunda was on point and even the pitch was green. The club is definitely on the right path to getting Nakuru back to where it was…

2. My Mganga needs a pay rise – In the build up to the tournament, I decided to have a bit of fun by trying to predict how the games will play out on Day one. I am happy to report that apart from a few near misses, I was spot on! (Be the judge here) I am now in the process of setting up a ‘Mganga hatari kutoka Kitui’ kibanda around Ngong road, be sure to visit. Will I try it again, let’s wait and see..

3. Kenya Sevens Selection – With the announcement of the 2019/20 Kenya sevens training squad about to made very soon, I am hoping that the selectors and or union will put aside any differences they have with the players aside and pick the best there is, at the very least for the Olympic qualifiers set for 9-10 November.

Also with the players selected likely to sit out the last two legs of the series, expect an even tighter race at the top, with teams grappling to replace their stars and the chasing pack taking full advantage in these remaining legs.

4. That Stanbic Mwamba vs Top Fry Nakuru Match – The first Cup semi final at the Prinsloo sevens saw hosts Nakuru take on a resilient Mwamba side in a match that exceeded all our expectations. The hosts would get the first score of the game, through a Monate try deep into the first half of what was an intense physical battle, Kulabu would reply moments later with a converted try to take the lead momentarily before a Geoff Ominde Penalty meant the hosts went into the breather holding a narrow 8-7 lead.

The second half came with all sorts of twists and turns as Mwamba piled the pressure on the hosts, first was a disallowed try by Nakuru that would have seen them stretch that lead, then there was a tackle by Oscar Ouma that literally shook the ground. The moment finally came for Kulabu after they had set camp in the Nakuru 22 for the good part of three minutes, the short pass from Collins Injera to Mike Okello (almost like the one in the final) to see the black shirts proceed to the big dance.

5. The Ref Incident – It was sad to see ‘aggrieved’ Nakuru fans attack the referee after the match described above. Even laughable now that the Nakuru technical bench and the match officials reviewed videos from the game and absolved the center referee and his assistants of any wrongdoing.

While it is understandable for emotions to run high, especially in such close encounters, you really can’t excuse the behaviour we saw on Sunday. It is what differentiates our sport from that other one where people kick a ball aimlessly and spend half the time rolling over, we can do better.

Finally, a bit on the magic of sevens courtesy of the top two teams in the series; KCB looked imperious in Kakamega before slipping up in Meru, where Mwamba looked unplayable, they in turn slipped in Dala, where KCB matched Mwamba’s form in Meru, Mwamba slipped up in Dala, before dusting themselves up in Nakuru where KCB looked dazed.

If the pattern holds, we expect KCB to get back to winning ways at Christie before slipping up in Driftwood, and vice versa for Mwamba. Could the series title be decided by who ‘slips up the best?’ What about the other three sides, can any of them mount a late charge and pita katikati yao?

The series takes a break this weekend, making time for the teams to rest, recover and charge for the final lap. Most importantly, for the test match between the Simbas and Zambia this Saturday at the RFUEA.

KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!

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