Series On Knife’s Edge Heading To Prinsloo

The 2015 National sevens series is literally on a knife’s edge heading into it’s penultimate leg this weekend, the Prinsloo 7s in Nakuru.

Things on a Knife's edge (Photo : MoR)

Things on a Knife’s edge (Photo : MoR)

In the recent past, we already had a series champion ‘elect’ by this time. All they had to do is make the cup competition to walk majestically into the last leg and claim the crown. This time round however, the race for the series crown is a bit more crowded with up to five sides in contention.

Hosts Top Fry Nakuru lead the series log on 54 points and are closely followed by the Kenya Harlequins on 53 points. Driftwoods sevens champions Mwamba RFC are in third on 49 points, with the Pan Africa Strathmore Leos on 46 points, defending series champions KCB wrap up the top 5 on 45 points.

Mathematically, these 5 still have their fate in their own hands, especially for the top two. The other three will have to hope the teams above them slip up and they have a perfect run in these last two legs.

This is how the teams are pooled for the Prinsloo sevens :

POOL A

The 2015 Driftwood sevens champions Mwamba RFC headline a tricky looking Pool A, where they’ll battle it out against Western Bulls, Kabras and MKU Thika.

Kulabu were in a class of their own in Mombasa, where despite literally running onto the pitch without warming up for their first match, thanks to a flight delay. They went on to only concede 14 points at the end of day one, en-route to lifting the cup.

The addition of Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange went a long way to settle things for the side, but it was the performances of the younger faces that was a joy to watch. The likes of Martin Wanjia, Brad Owako, Hyke Otieno and Mike Okima were equally as good over the two days.

If they can replicate this in Nakuru, they’ll be almost unstoppable.

Action between Kulabu and Echulusi in Mombasa (Photo : MoR)

Action between Kulabu and Echulusi in Mombasa (Photo : MoR)

The Western Bulls looked solid with the return of Davis Chenge, new head coach Howard Okwemba seems to be turning the side’s fortunes, they will be no push overs and will be strong contenders in this pool.

The self crowned kings of the Bowl, Kabras will be out to break their back to back appearances in the category. They will however need to have improved on their discipline, as it was their biggest undoing down at the coast. 3 yellow cards in their opener against Nakuru all but sealed their fate.

The exciting MKU Thika, who picked up the division two title in Mombasa, will probably be in for the proverbial ‘baptism of fire’ here.

POOL B 

Hosts and losing cup finalists in Mombasa, Top Fry Nakuru RFC headline Pool B where they will be up against Impala, BlakBlad and Makueni.

This one looks like a straight forward one for the series leaders, who have been really impressive over the last three legs. Unlike other sides whose fortunes can probably be narrowed down to a few faces, Wanyore’s success this season has been down to some brilliant team play.

The probable return of David Kivuti should strengthen the side that will be looking to bag their first ever Prinsloo title and hopefully series title.

Gramwel Bunyasi of Nakuru in full flight (Photo : MoR)

Gramwel Bunyasi of Nakuru in full flight (Photo : MoR)

Impala find themselves playing catch up once again, after slipping further away from the leading pack in Mombasa. Where they bowed out in the Plate Semi, the Sarries will be playing the role of spoilers in Nakuru. They however should not be taken lightly especially with Robert Aringo and Samuel Motari in action.

Blakblad reached the Bowl final in Mombasa, their best finish this season. Tank’s charges will be looking to go one better, on their day cup qualification from this pool is not a far fetched fete.

Driftwood sevens Division two runners up Makueni will be looking to impress in this pool and probably go on to hold on to top flight status for the last leg.

POOL C

2009 Prinsloo champions Strathmore Leos headline Pool C where they are joined by the Kenya Harlequins, the Catholic Monks and Kisumu RFC.

Another straight forward looking pool for the top two sides, Strathmore and Quins, with the only contention being who will finish in first position.

The Leos seem to be finding their stride and being able to grind out results, that 7-5 quarter final win over KCB and 19-12 result over bogey side Homeboyz, stand as fact. On the flip side, they lost 17-12 after sudden death, to Mwamba in the Semi.

Tony Owuor about to take on Alvin Otieno (Photo : MoR)

Tony Owuor about to take on Alvin Otieno (Photo : MoR)

This will be the time for the side to put the pedal to the metal, especially looking at their series standings, they can not afford to slip up.

Despite losing in the Plate final, the Kenya Harlequins did very little to dent their series title hopes, with results elsewhere playing out perfectly for them. They will however realise that the same will not happen here. They have been handed a second chance at the title, one that they cannot let go.

The return of Isaac Adimo in for the injured Eden Agero, alongside Dennis Muhanji should be a new lease of life to the side.

The Catholic Monks and Kisumu RFC, will most probably battle out for third place in this pool. After missing out on Division 1 action in Mombasa, the Monks will definitely be back hungrier in Nakuru, the boys from Kondele will however look to silence them early on.

POOL D

The Menengai Cream Homeboyz RFC headline this, another potentially tricky pool where they are joined by KCB, Kisii RFC and Nondies.

How times change, last year coming into Prinsloo the Djs and the Lions were front runners for the Series title. This year they find themselves in the peripheries of the race.

After two false starts, the DJs finally came good at the Coast, or so we thought. Conceding only 5 points on Day 1, the side went on to see off Impala in the cup quarter final before meeting their match in Top Fry Nakuru who edged them out 7-0 in the semi final.

Credit to the side that has been on a steady improvement slope, going by the curve, they should be in line for at least a cup final appearance here.

Joshua Chisanga lining up an attack for the Djs (Photo : MoR)

Joshua Chisanga lining up an attack for the Djs (Photo : MoR)

The defending series champions KCB have been playing this far with the hand brake on, and looking at the log, chances of them defending that title are about paper thin. They are also the defending Prinsloo champions, a title they will have to successfully defend if those narrow series hopes are to be kept alive.

The loss of Jacob Ojee leaves a big dent on their hopes here, the flyer was outstanding in Mombasa before suffering an ankle injury in the Plate final. The Lions will have nowhere to hide and will need to play their socks off here, with Ken Moseti getting back into the side, they should have the required boost.

Kisii RFC, have continued impressing from that show at the Christies Division 2 final. They have not looked back since, a Shield final and a Bowl semi final has seeing them retain top flight status. Though it might seem like a long shot, don’t be surprised if these Lads claim a scalp in this Pool.

After toying with the cup competition and our emotions in the first two tournaments, the Rangers turned back time to the last couple of seasons, when they found themselves in the Shield in Mombasa.

Nondies will however have a chance to redeem themselves here, that chance at redemption will however not be an easy one. The probable return of Biko Adema should add a spring to the Red Lion’s step and really make this an exciting pool.

So will the most successful side in Prinsloo, pull another ‘airport delay’ and claim their fifth title in Nakuru? Or will it be the hosts, to claim their first home title, maybe the 2015 Christie sevens champions will lift their first ever Prinsloo title. Or just maybe the back to back Prinsloo champions will make it three in a row.

These and many more questions will be answered among loads of fun this weekend, at the Nakuru Athletics Club, see you there.

KWISHA…Nimeruka Nje!!

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