Can Kabras Finish The Job?

Five seasons, one Kenya cup title, countless wins later, the question on everyone’s minds when Kabras lines up at the forest to take on KCB in the million shilling match, will be, can Kabras finally finish the job?

It has been five fantastic seasons at the top flight so far for the sugar men, in which they have quickly risen up to the top of the food chain and in that short time, achieved what most clubs only dream of. There is however one thing that has eluded them all this while, they have never beaten KCB in a Kenya Cup match.

This Saturday at the Kakamega Show ground, the sugar men will probably have their best chance yet, to finally get one over their arch rivals and lift the Kenya cup title for the second time in five years.

It will be exactly 421 days after Kabras saw their title ambitions fade into the thin air of the Lions’ den in Ruaraka as the referee blew for full time with the scoreboard reading 29-24 in favour of the Lions, to hand the hosts a record matching unbeaten Kenya Cup title.

Prior to that whistle, Kabras had gone 30 plus phases probing at the KCB defence looking for the 7 points that would have finally given them that elusive win.

This weekend at the Kakamega Showgrounds, Kabras will be playing at their own terms and at their own turf, on the back of their best season in the top flight by a country mile and in front of their adoring fans. In so many words, the Sugar men will be hot and odd on favourites to finally get one over KCB.

Overall, this will be the 10th meeting between Kabras and KCB in the league since the earlier’s promotion to the league. Out of those 10 meetings, KCB has won nine, with one ending in a 15 all draw, that draw coming in the 2016/17 season, is the only other time this match has been played in Kakamega.

The last time these two met in a Kenya cup final (Photo – Mid-Ego Fotography)

That the sugar men come into this one off a spirited battle against Mwamba, buoyed by a passionate crowd support at the same venue. That 23-11 score line represented their second lowest scoring win of the season, their lowest coming in a 21-3 win over the Kenya Harlequins in the regular season.

Kabras will be playing in their 5th consecutive final of the Kenya Cup, a run that can only be matched by the Nondies and Impalas of yore, who never played in a play off format in the first place.

In those four finals, Kabras have won one, in the 2015/16 season when they famously beat Impala under a rain drenched Impala Club grounds, losing the other three to KCB.

On the other side of the half way line facing Kabras at kick off, will be a KCB side that will be in unfamiliar territory, playing in their third consecutive final, fourth in five years, but their first away from home. Having hosted the last two league deciders and played the 2014/15 one at the RFUEA.

The Lion will be in uncomfortable territory and you bet that the home fans will be looking to shout it into a corner, for their beloved sugar men to beat it into submission. Easier said than done.

For despite their lukewarm season, KCB beat Kabras 44-20 in the regular season and come into this final off a morale boosting 46-13 win over Quins in the semi final. While it might be an away fixture, expect a sizeable crowd at the Kakamega Showground supporting the green shirts, seeing as a good chunk call the area their home, it will be a feeling of a home away from home.

From the last time these two met.. (Photo – Denis Acre Half)

On the pitch, expect the proverbial battle between an immovable object and an unstoppable force, as attack meets defence. While Kabras have been rampant and ruthless on attack, KCB have reached this far on the back of a solid defence line, on Saturday, one has to give.

Expect a titanic battle at the forwards, as these two pack the meanest sets in the land, who only know how to do one thing, run straight at defence lines. It will however be at the set piece and breakdown where the game will be made or broken for these two, the one who wins will be the one who can consistently deliver good ball to their backs, especially for Kabras.

There is little doubt that Kabras has the most lethal set of backs in the country, who if left to play can dismantle even the best of defences. In Nick Barasa and Mario Wilson, the sugarmen have the dream center combination, offering both a direct route and a ‘fancy’ approach in equal measure.

In Jonah Kubu, Felix Ayange and Paul Abuto, the sugar men have a deceptively diminutive back three who are safe under the highball and lethal with ball in hand.

Nick Barasa causing the KCB center pairing all sorts of trouble (Photo – Denis Acre half)

Then there is the Ugandan Maestro, the incoming Kenya Cup top points and top try scorer, Philip Wokorach, who can literally create magic from absolutely nothing from wherever it is he is deployed at. In him Kabras have the key that can open the KCB defence in the blink of an eye.

Add the likes of Max Adaka, Dan Sikuta, George Nyambua, Hillary Odhiambo, Claude Johannes, Brian Juma and Asuman Mugerwa and you have a mean running team capable of destroying anything in their way.

KCB will be looking to the likes of Andrew Amonde, Curtis Lilako, Davis Chenge, Jacob Ojee and Oliver Mang’eni for leadership, in what promises to be their sternest test yet, the backline combination of Ken Moseti, Brian Omondi and Peter Kilonzo will have their hands full, but should also not be underrated with ball in hand, Jacob Ojee, Isaac Njoroge and Tony Onyango will line up in the back three, in what has been a solid partnership so far.

Keep an eye out for the battle at scrum half where the Chipu duo of Barry Robinson (Kabras) might line up against Samuel Asati (KCB). Remember what we said about clean ball off the set pieces and breakdowns, well these young gents will be the conductors of these possessions, determining just how fast or slow the service will be.

Samuel Asati in past action against Kabras (Photo – Denis Acre-half)

It promises to be an exciting 80 minutes, or more, of top notch rugby and if the Kakamega weather holds, it will be an epic encounter, the kind of which is yet to be witnessed in the league.

If you can make it to the Kakamega showgrounds, I urge you to do exactly that, as the grounds will also host the Championship final, an explosive Western derby pitting the Western Bulls against Kisumu RFC.

Nairobi will host the ESS final at the Lion’s den where KCB II will be taking on Homeboyz II, we will also probably have Mwamba take on Quins in the bronze final.

All the best to all the teams that will be playing in this final weekend of the 2018/19 league season, may the hard work that you have put in show and may the bounce of the rugby ball always be in your favour, but above all else, go out there and enjoy yourselves, own the moment for you have certainly earned it!

KWISHA… Nimeruka Nje!!!

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