The Shaban Show Brings Unbeaten Run To Screeching Halt
Shaban Ahmed was a largely unknown name in the Kenya rugby circles, to the close follower though, his performance at the weekend did not come as a surprise.
It will be remembered that he was an integral part of the Kabras side that made it to the semi-finals of the Driftwood sevens. Most recently a cameo appearance against Quins left an impression on many.
On game week 12 though, perhaps on the biggest of stages, against the defending champions at the UoN, Shaban stepped up. In a match that the black shirts came into without Lavin Asego and their sevens contingency, a fact that many used to write off their chances in this one.
With the second side having set the stage, battling to a 15-12 result and becoming the first side to beat Nakuru II in the ESS, it was the turn of the senior side to match that result. After a jittery start where Nakuru saw more of the ball and wasted a fair amount of chances to go ahead, Shaban struck.
The half back picked up a lose ball from a Nakuru ruck to show the visitors’ defence a clean pair of heels and score between the posts. Brian Kivasya making no mistake from the conversion to give the black shirts a 7-0 lead.
That score would stabilise Mwamba’s ship as they got into Nakuru’s faces at every chance, disrupting any momentum the Wanyore built. The visitors still had the upper hand at the scrums and had camped inside the Mwamba 22 but with little success as the defence held up greatly.
There was however no denying Nakuru as Nick Lango went over for a push over try to reduce the deficit to two points going into the break after a missed conversion. Nakuru would be the more concerned side at the break after dominating much of that half but went in trailing. Mwamba’s forwards had done a great job so far, getting over a slow start to give their opposite numbers a real battle especially at the rucks.
Nakuru got off to a blistering start in the second half, with Calvin Otieno handing the defending champions the lead for the first time in the match through an unconverted try. At 10-7 Mwamba would again not fold, some great work from the Mwamba forwards forced an infringement that resulted in Brian Kivasya’s penalty that brought the scores level.
At this point Mwamba had consolidated the forward battle, putting up more solid scrums and not shying away from the battle at the contact area. It was at this point that Shaban struck again, picking up an intercept inside his half to sprint half the length of the pitch to dive in for his second try, Kivasya converting to hand his side a 17-10 lead.
Nakuru’s response was swift, as they quickly worked the ball to the wing from the kick off with Cliff Amoko touching down in front of the Wanyore faithful. Martin Muita failed to tie the game from the conversion with the score reading 17-15 to Mwamba.
It was end to end stuff as the UoN grass around the pitch got too hot for anyone to sit on. Mwamba had sensed the win and threw everything at the now shocked Nakuru side. Brian Kivasya would kick over his second penalty of the match, to stretch his side’s lead to 5 points at 20-15.
Nakuru would again come up with a response with Martin Owilla going over, centre referee Constant Cap having to confirm with the touch judges before awarding the try. Martin Muita would again fail from the conversion this time hitting the upright to see the scores tied at 20 all. Kelvin Omiyo would see yellow for an infringement at the ruck and talking back to the centre referee.
Mwamba quickly got into the front foot looking to make the number adavantage count, making forays inside the Nakuru half. Kivasya missed two penalties from this run of play as Kulabu pinned the visitors into their half. The first penalty an audacious attempt from 50 meters that just fell short and the second a straight forward kick from 20 meters that he drove wide.
He was however not to be denied from his third attempt as Mwamba’s pressure at the rucks once again resulted into a penalty that he slotted in to hand his side a 23-20 lead. Nakuru were soon back to their full complement as Omiyo got back into the action.
The Wanyore threw everything they had to get the win here, with Mwamba holding on as the clock ticked away. There was however enough time for Shaban to complete his hat trick and sink the final nail on Nakuru’s coffin. In almost identical fashion to his second, the slick half back intercepted a sloppy pass in between the Nakuru backs this time inside the Nakuru half to touch down, with Kivasya converting to make it 30-20.
There was little time for Nakuru to get back into the match as the final whistle went to hand them their first defeat of the season. It was a spirited fight from the black shirts against an opponent that had been described as peerless in the last weeks.
The forwards will take the credit for this one with the likes of Salaton Muturi, Francis Akatu, Louis Kisia, Ben Odhiambo, and Joesph Oriwo putting in a relentless fight. Their exploits revealing the champions’ soft under belly especially at the rucks.
Mwamba never shied away from the battle at the contact area disrupting each and every ball Nakuru had. Though they struggled at the start at the scrums they found their footing and took the fight to the defending champions. An all round great performance collectively from the black shirts, every one of the 15 on the pitch put in a great performance, Shaban’s was just the icing and the cherry to top it off.
Nakuru’s first defeat gives them a human face and though it didn’t do much as far as the standings go, the other sides especially in the top four will gain a boost looking at this result. The Wanyore remain perched at the top gaining a point from their exploits here after scoring four tries to take their tally to 55 points.
Mwamba’s win takes their total to 31 points and they remain in 7th spot. In other matches there were wins for Quins, Impala and Homeboyz. Quins cemented second spot with a 54-5 drubbing of Blad with Impala taking their total to 28 points with a 30-16 win over the Western Bulls. The Homeboyz made sure that they will finish in fifth after beating Machine 31-5.
Mwamba 30-20 Nakuru
Quins 54-5 BlakBlad
Homeboyz 31-5 Machine
Impala 30-16 Western Bulls
KCB 24-0 Eldoret
Strathmore 24-0 Mombasa
Nondies 24-0 Kisumu