Impala Are Floodies Champions.
The Resolution Impala Saracens claimed their 7th Floodies title at the weekend after edging out defending champions KCB, 33-32 in a ‘thriller per minute’ final played at the Impala grounds.
It was however the 3-peat champions, KCB that started off strongly, scoring within the opening 10 minutes from a rolling maul, with Mukidza converting for a 7-0 lead. Quinto Ongo would then get the Sarries off the blocks from a penalty kick, which ignited the hosts’ charge.
Moments later Davis Makori would go over after a sweeping move from Impala, Quinto adding a 3 pointer from the boot, after missing the conversion to make it 13-7. Mukidza would bring his side to within 3 points after a successful penalty to make it 13-10.
Impala were now on the driver’s seat, dictating play, dominating both territory and possesion. Their fluid play swinging the KCB defense one way then the other, with the Lions barely holding on. The young Collins Nato came to KCB’s rescue, intercepting an Impala pass to race all of 60 meters and go over for a 15-13 score line.
The game would go into the break with the scores reading KCB 15-13 Impala, it had been so far the perfect clash of playing styles, with KCB anchoring their play on physicality, with Impala pegging their hopes on their expansive brand of play.
There was very little to pick between the two. The forwards battle was finely poised, the Sarries holding an advantage in the scrum, with the Lions dominating at the maul.
The Lions started the second half as they did the first, this time Francis Mwita finishing off a well rounded move by his side to stretch the lead to 20-13. Quinto was again at it from the boot, taking the score to 20-16. Sticking with the script from the first half, there was no denying Samuel Oliech, who went over to make it 23-20 after the conversion.
Oliech had earlier in the match been denied a clear try scoring opportunity, after center referee Gareth Crawford had adjudged that the pass delivered to him had travelled forward.
KCB would lose the services of Billy Isabwa after the fly half looked to have twisted an ankle after an attempted quick tap. Darwin Mukidza would find himself filling in at fly half for the second time in 3 weekends, Ojee moving to full back and Collins Wanjala now at the blind wing.
That man Nato Simiyu was again at the center of everything and was brilliant with the boot for territory, in this one instant placing a 60 meter or so touch finder right at the KCB 5-yard line. The pressure at the resultant line out would see Impala win a scrum, Duncan Ekasi controlling the ball perfectly from the back of the Impala scrum to go over for a 30-20 lead after the conversion.
With a little over 20 minutes to play, Impala would find themselves down to 13 men, Sammuel Oliech then Dennis Karani sent to the bin within minutes of each other. KCB had Impala at their mercy, or so we thought. Between those two cards, KCB had cut the deficit to 3 points off another try from a rolling maul, it was now 30-27.
KCB went about trying to make their numbers advantage count but were shut out on several occasions, thrice from an attempt to set up a maul. The Impala defence doing an amazing job at stopping the maul before it could be set.
There was still more action in this one, with Impala now back to full complement and a point cushion, they needed to put the game beyond KCB’s reach with precious little time left.
Impala were on the charge, 30 or so meters to the KCB line, when the ball found it’s way to Nato Simyu, who had the presence of mind to go for the drop goal where most would have just looked for the off load. His attempt would split the posts to take the score to 33-27, KCB would now need a converted try to win this.
The try would come, in the form of Darwin Mukidza, who evaded a couple of tackles to ground the ball at the corner, his conversion however sailed wide with a minute to play. Impala would boot it deep into KCB territory and pile the pressure, the Lions would fail to play themselves out of the tight spot they found themselves in.
The cornered Lions were now in their own try box, with no where to hide, they were quickly brought down, Gareth Crawford blowing for full time and ending Impala’s six year wait for a Floodies title.
It was a fitting final to crown what was an epic 3 weeks of 15s rugby, the games on the pitch over the three weeks, were an absolute joy to watch across the board. The ladies title was picked up by the Thika road franchise who beat their Ngong road sisters 10-5 at the very last minute.
The schools’ title ended up in Rongai for the third year in a row as Laiser Hill beat a spirited Ofafa Jericho, 21-15. The Oilers dream start to the 15s game kept going, as they made it 3 from 3, beating Blad II 24-16 and claim the Varsities title. The Homeboyz picked up the club’s category plate title with a 22-18 result over the Leos.
It was great to see fans filling the grounds over the 3 match days, a clear indication that we love our rugby. The organisation was also top notch. A tip of the hat to everyone involved.
Now bring on the Kenya Cup!