Lions All But Seal Series Title
After the slip up where they lost the cup final in Mombasa, defending series champions KCB returned normalcy to this season’s sevens series, with a 26-10 win over Nakuru to pick up their third Prinsloo title in as many years.
It was the Lion’s third triumph this season after picking up the Kabeberi and Dala titles and underlines the side’s dominance in the short version of the game. Over the last two seasons the side has made it to 7 cup finals in a row, winning 6 of those.
They now sit comfortably at the summit of the series on 85 points, 17 more than second placed Homeboyz who failed to replicate their Mombasa heroics. Nakuru are in third on 61 points, Quins (54) and Strathmore (51) round up the top five.
In many ways it was the make or break leg of the series, coming into Nakuru there were up to four sides who still had realistic hopes of picking the overall title. Most eyes were on the top two, Homeboyz and KCB to see how they would fair at the Nakuru Athletic Club.
The Djs got off to a shaky start, and were fortunate to sneak in a 12-7 over Impala. The Lions had no such problems in their opening encounter claiming a 22-0 win over Western Bulls in their first match in Pool B.
The two sides would go on to finish Day 1 on top of their respective pools, Homeboyz beating Mombasa 17-0 following it up with a 24-0 result over Kabras. With KCB registering 29-7 and 17-7 wins over Masaku and Nondies.
Day 1 however belonged to Mwamba RFC, who blew through their opposition in Pool C, their opponents struggling to contain the new trio of Dennis Ombachi, Michael Agevi and Collins Injera. The black shirts were 41-0 winners over Catholic, following this up with a 36-0 result over KCA, then wrapping things up with a 21-12 result over Quins.
Kulabu headed the favourites list going into day 2 alongside the hosts Nakuru, Strathmore, KCB and Homeboyz. Impala would find themselves on the wrong side of the Day 2 draw as they failed to make the cup from Pool A, losing to their boogie team, Kabras, 22-5 after that opening loss to Homeboyz.
Quarter Final Pairings :
Impala v Masaku
Kisumu v KCA
Catholic v Daystar
Nondies v Mombasa
Homeboyz v Western Bulls
Nakuru v Quins
Mwamba v Strathmore
KCB v Kabras.
Things went as expected in the Bowl category with Impala, Kisumu, Catholic and Nondies progressing into the semi finals. Impala 36-0 winners over Masaku, Kisumu with a 15-5 win over KCA. Catholic university beating Daystar 17-5, Nondies beating Mombasa 34-0.
As we have been accustomed to this season, the cup quarter finals are closely fought out affairs, these ones were no different, but packed with them a few surprises.
First up were Homeboyz, after trailing 7-0 in the opening exchanges they got back up to go into the break tied 12 all against Western Bulls. Two quick tries from the Echulusi in the opening stages of the second half saw the side lead 24-12, the Djs trying to get back into the game at 24-17. Davis Chenge would however seal the game for the Bulls at 31-17.
The Djs title chances had taken a heavy hit, with KCB set to blow past Kabras in their quarter final, or would they?
The second quarter final, hosts Nakuru led 7-0 against Quins going into the break, the Wanyore managing to hold on for a 12-5 result and set up a semi final meeting against Western Bulls.
Strathmore came up against the scary looking Mwamba side, the Leos were impressive over the 14 minutes especially defensively. They however could not contain the Kulabu machine as they were relegated to the Plate after a 12-5 result.
The last quarter final was expected to be a straight forward affair as defending Prinsloo champions KCB took on Kabras. It did start off that way, with the Lions taking the early 7-0 lead. Kabras would however immediately get back into the fray, trailing 7-5 at the break.
Kabras were matching the Lions pound for pound, their latest acquisition Philip Wokorach combining well with Nick Barasa. The Lions would however stretch their lead to 14-5 mid way through the second half.
A moment of confusion by the referee saw Kabras get back into the match at 14-10. The referee got his hand signals mixed up, signalling a half penalty in KCB’s favour from a scrum. The diminutive Kabras scrum half was quickest to react, restarting play to virtually stroll behind the KCB posts amid protest from the Lions.
Wokorach would scuff the conversion from dead centre, hitting the post and make the score 14-10. Kabras, sensing that KCB were shaken quickly restarted the match and turned up the pressure. The Lions would however hold on, just, to the result and set up a mouth watering clash against Mwamba in the semi final. But more importantly had the upper hand in the race for the overall title.
Semi Final Pairings :
Masaku v KCA
Daystar v Mombasa
Impala v Kisumu
Catholic v Nondies
Homeboyz v Quins
Strathmore v Kabras
Bulls v Nakuru
Mwamba v KCB
Masaku marched into the final of the Shield with a 12-0 win over KCA, they would meet Mombasa who upset Daystar 15-7. Those results meant that Daystar and KCA would play in the second division in the last leg of the series, the Christie sevens.
In the Bowl, Impala beat Kisumu 37-5 to set up a final showdown against Ngong road neighbours Nondies who beat Catholic 22-7.
The Plate kicked off in blistering pace, as Homeboyz took on Quins in the first semi final. The quartered shirts piling the misery on the Djs, beating them 22-12 to progress into the final and further dent any hopes their neighbours had in clinching their first sevens series title. The second semi saw Plate specialists Strathmore, fall to a spirited Kabras side 17-12.
In the cup, the Western Bulls failed to replicate their stellar performance in the quarter final as they fell 20-0 to the hosts.
The second semi final was tagged ‘the final before the final’ as series leaders KCB took on favourites Mwamba RFC. It was expected to be a close encounter, with Kulabu just edging it and going forward to pick the cup title.
When the match kicked off, it was anything but close, the Lions rediscovering the form that has made them this devastating. The side starving the black shirts of possession, the combination of Jacob Ojee and Peter Kilonzo at centre and wing having the upper hand on the more accomplished pairing of Dennis Ombachi and Collins Injera.
Philip Wamae leading his forwards, Ian Indimuli and Oliver Mang’eni and the Lions in running off as convincing 22-0 winners and remain on course to defend their Prinsloo title.
Final Pairings :
Masaku vs Mobasa
Impala vs Nondies
Quins vs Kabras
3rd place :
Mwamba vs Western Bulls
KCB vs Nakuru
Masaku and Mombasa met in the Driftwood Division II final, Masaku winning that one 19-10. The two met once again in the Shield final, Masaku once again edging Mombasa, this time 12-0 to claim the Shield title.
Impala claimed their second Bowl title in as many weeks after edging out Nondies 22-14 in an exciting final. Quins picked up the Plate title after battling to a 19-12 result against the impressive Kabras.
The last time KCB met Nakuru in the Prinsloo final in 2012, the Lions blanked their hosts 36-0. Two years on, the two sides had come a long way in the shorter version of the game, KCB growing into a power house, with Nakuru growing greatly.
The two had come into this final off strong performances in the semi finals, Nakuru had looked strong over the two days with KCB seemingly now over their slow start to Day 2.
After a cagey start, Philip Kwame got the Nakuru supporters on their feet with the first try of the match. The crowd would be back on their seats, as Benjamin Ojema utilised the blind side off a ruck to score, Peter Kilonzo would soon stretch KCB’s lead to 12-5.
The Wanyore were back into the game going into the half time break Charles Odhiambo going over for a 12-10 score line.
The second half was all KCB as Jacob Ojee and Oliver Mang’eni put the result beyond doubt as the Lions ran away with a 26-10 result. The side cementing it’s dominance over the sevens version, after many had raised questions following their showing in Mombasa.
Despite losing two of their influential players in Ken Moseti and Darwin Mukidza, the Lions showed just how much depth they have. Benjamin Ojema and Peter Kilonzo slotting in seamlessly, alongside Allan Omuka.
Their core of Philip Wamae, Oliver Mang’eni, Edwin Salamba, Fabian Olando, Jacob Ojee, Peter Waitere and Ian Indimuli, weathering the challenging series with exemplary showings this far.
The side now only requires 6 points in the last leg of the series to successfully defend their series title. In simpler terms the bankers need to get past the Christie sevens Bowl semi finals. The battle for the other positions on the overall log looks to go down to the wire as second placed Homeboyz and 5th placed Strathmore are separated by 17 points.
Mwamba who are in 6th on 49 points have a 14 point gap between them and 9th placed Nondies. Though the series title is all but wrapped up, there will be all to play for, for the other sides as they look to end the season on a high.
Mean Machine finally got back into the first division, after making it into the final and beating JKUAT 12-7. the two will now play in the top flight at the Christie sevens.