The 7s Show Can Only Get Better From Here.
Three legs into the 2017 sevens series and I can sit here and confidently say that this has, rather will be the most exciting series we have seen in a while. Best part is, it can only get better, here is why.
With three legs done, no one can certainly call out a clear series winner, we have had three different leg winners and a surprising amount of twists and turns.
In comparison, at a similar point in 2015 (back when there were 5 legs) Quins were top on 41 points, followed by eventual winners Nakuru on 35, and then defending champions KCB on 32, Strathmore and Mwamba wrapped up the top 5 on 29 and 27 points respectively, heading into the third leg. It was clear that the series winner was going to come from these five.
At a similar point last year, we also had 3 different winners, in Homeboyz (Prinsloo), Impala (Kabeberi) and Quins (Driftwood), however, these three had sneaked away with wins against the same opponent in the final, eventual series winners, Homeboyz. It was by then clear that the Djs were going to lift the crown.
Fast forward to this year and the cup quarter final list is as unpredictable as a Kenyan referee’s call at a breakdown. We have so far seen 11 sides play in the cup quarter finals, only 3 sides have made it on all three occasions. Series leaders Homeboyz, Kabras and the Harlequins. Only Homeboyz, Strathmore and Nakuru have played in more than one cup semi final, with the latter playing in 2 cup finals.
While in previous seasons it has been about coping with the stand out team’s strength, this year with no single outstanding side, teams are venturing out more and playing to their strengths. In 2013-14 people were coping with KCB’s physicality, in 2015 it was the pace of Nakuru, last season, the brute force of Homeboyz.
This season in Mombasa, the Homeboyz saw their physical dominance carry them to the title, in Nairobi it couldn’t get them past the cup quarter finals. Impala were tactically superior in Kabeberi, but their tactics couldn’t get them a place in the day 2 cup draw, while KCB who had struggled in the two legs, turned to the breakdown to bully everyone to the Prinsloo title.
Beneath these three leg champions are the likes of the Menengai Oilers who have dazzled us all through, Kabras, Strathmore and Quins. Add Mwamba, Blad, Nondies and Machine to that list and you have a real battle on your hands heading into the second half of the series.
As things stand, the Djs consistency sees them lead the log on 51 points, 5 ahead of Nakuru, the Impressive Oilers are 3 points behind their ‘big brothers’ on 43 points, from this point it gets real crowded. KCB & Impala (42), Kabras 41, Strathmore 37 and Quins 32.
Heading to the fourth leg in Eldoret, things are bound to get real interesting. Top seeds KCB find themselves in a tricky looking Pool A alongside Mwamba, Impala and the Catholic Monks. Mwamba and Impala having already beaten the Lions in the previous legs.
The return of Andrew Amonde seemed to have sparked a dormant KCB side into action, will the spark burst into a flame in Eldoret or was it just that? A young Kulabu side tasted their first cup quarter final in Nakuru and will definitely want to get back there.
Impala’s national charges seemed to have interrupted an already working formula, if once again called up, they will definitely be looking to make amends in this one.
Pool B sees Nakuru square it out against a rejuvenated Blak Blad side, the exciting Menengai Oilers and unpredictable Mean Machine in what could potentially be the pool of death. Interesting to note that all these sides have played in a cup semi final, I struggle to pick a highlight match from this pool, but Nakuru vs Oilers promises to be a cracker!
Just like with KCB and Amonde, the return of Oscar Ouma to Nakuru has given them a new lease of life, can he inspire the side to the Sepetuka cup title?
Hosts Homeboyz and Quins should have an easy day in Pool C, where they meet MKU Thika and Nondies. It will be interesting to see Nondies taking on MKU Thika, after what happened in Nakuru.
The Djs called upon Joshua Chisanga, Phillip Ikambili and Kelvin Maasai in Nakuru to very little effect, the earlier however making a significant impact but also was an achilles heel on defence especially on the outside flanks. Will they stick to their guns or change things up for Eldoret?
Strathmore Leos and Kabras should have a similar run in from Pool D as the Pool C headliners, where they are pitted against Western Bulls and the Prinsloo division II champions, Makueni. Watch out for Makueni, who play a brilliant form of free flowing rugby.
It promises to be an exciting 3 legs ahead, I’d probably put my money on a different winner in Eldoret, maybe Nakuru or Strathmore, but hey, you can never predict the bounce of a rugby ball.. unless you are Beauden Barrett!