Kifaru Looking For Happy Ending To Fairy tale Run
The UAP Kifaru will, at the weekend be looking to complete what has been a dream run in this year’s Bamburi Rugby Super Series. The Kifaru became the first Universities franchise to make the Super Series final in the competition’s 12 year history.
Before this year, the furthest a Universities franchise has come was the semi final in 2011, that side featured the likes of Collins Injera, Oscar Ouma, Felix Ayange and Ken Andola. This Kifaru side is barely known heavily drawing players from the Nationwide and Blak Blad Mean Machine.
This year’s competition has been a true fairy tale for the Kifaru who were given absolutely no chance to even make it to past the pool stages let alone have a shot at the title. A narrow 8-6 defeat to the Papa in Kakamega got their campaign started on a strong footing.
That result was dismissed by many as a fluke, the students then followed this up with a 32-22 win over last year’s losing finalists the Rewnzori in Nakuru. That result meant that the Kifaru moved onto the Semi finals.
Here, once again the odds were heavily stacked against them, as they were coming up against the defending champions, the Ndovu. It was surely going to be the end of the road for the spirited Kifaru, or was it?
In grit fashion the Kifaru made the revered defending champions, who had breezed past everyone this far, look ordinary. Leading 16-5 at the break in Machakos the students would hold on to win this fixture in sudden death, 22-19.
That win means that the Kifaru would end this year’s tournament, the same way they started it, against the Papa.
It is no surprise that the Papa have come this far, as they started as one of the tournament’s hot favourites to lift this year’s title. They clearly have shown their pedigree over the four weeks, beating the Rwenzori 25-6 in Kampala in the opening weekend.
Papa followed this up with a last gasp win against the side they will be meeting in Saturday’s final, 8-6. They booked this final berth with a convincing 30-23 win over the Bollore Chui. They are yet to taste defeat in this year’s tournament and will be the favourites in many eyes.
Looking at what happened to the other sides that have faced the Kifaru this year, you will forgive the Papa for wanting to shed that title, ‘favourites.’ Surely the Kifaru have now earned the respect of all, and they will be in the lime light this Saturday, just like the Papa, if not more.
Kifaru have gotten this far on the back of three main things, a brutal defence, an effective attack and a fitness level not many posses. They don’t have the biggest forwards, in fact they have the smallest pack in the series. This translates into a beating at the scrum and they tend to suffer at the line out.
What they miss in those departments they make up for in sheer grit and team work, they are a persistent bunch. They give their bigger opponents little peace at the rucks and look to swing them from touch line to the other when they have possession.
The combination of Haroun Lubisia and George Mutuku at half back has been phenomenal for the side. These two make sure that the Kifaru play in the right areas of the pitch and once there, their strike rate is second to none. Lubisia has sinked in three drop goals so far, with Mutuku lethal from dead balls, expect these two to be at the centre of things once again on Saturday.
Coincidentally George Mutuku is the only player in this Kifaru side that featured in the Sharks class of 2011. He will be looking to finally get his hands on the Super series title.
They will most probably welcome back Dan Othieno in the forwards, his combination with Elly Mukaisi, captain Rocky Aguko, Martin Tubula and Kevin Bundi has been vital for the side.
The Papa boast of a formidable combination between their backs and forwards. They will be looking to repeat the result in Kakamega and claim their first BRSS title in the new format. The duo of Augustine Lughonzo and Jacob Ojee should be back in the Papa line up after missing the semi final.
The back three combination led by captain Allan Omuka, Bush Mwale and Jacob Ojee will be vital for the Papa. As will the centre pairing of Ken Moseti and Brian Omondi. Brian Sagara, Nick Ongeri, Louis Kisia, Davewayne Aswani and Salaton Muturi will be looking to silence the Kifaru forwards.
In Kakamega the Kifaru were guilty of losing their concentration in the dying minutes of the game thus letting the Papa sneak away with the win. They have since settled and will be looking to shut out the Papa for the full eighty or 100 minutes and have a happy ending to their fairy tale story here.
Having met not so long ago, these two will be out to close each other out early, so expect early scores.
It will be the classic encounter between ‘the stand out favourite’ and the ‘perennial under dog’, and it promises to be a cracker..
Before this final, the defending champions will be looking to save their blushes when they meet the Bollore Chui in the 3rd place play off. These two met in Nakuru, where the Ndovu emerged 27-10 winners.
Predictions : Ndovu over Chui by 10 or more.
Papa over Kifaru by 7 or less.