NAIROBI, Kenya, January 3- Rugby action resumes on Saturday following the Christmas and New Year’s festivities with Kenya Cup leaders, Mwamba visiting Impala in one of the highlight fixtures at Impala Club.
Mwamba ended 2011 perched atop the log, their three wins and a solitary loss earning 14 points the same tally as KCB Lions who have a game at hand.
They visit Impala, currently placed fifth after losing two of their opening three fixtures with the red shirts seeking to buck the trend.
Mwamba beat Impala 31-22 in last year’s post festive season Kenya Cup clash and this fixture should be a lively clash, serving up a new year’s gift to many a rugby fan.
At the University of Nairobi grounds, hosts Mean Machine play fourth placed Strathmore Leos seeking a repeat of the 17-0 win that saw the former lift the 30th Impala Floodlight title.
Strathmore turned the tables when they clashed at the KUSA National University Championships with a 10-5 results.
Since then, Machine have endured a torrid start to the Kenya Cup in a run that has seen them place bottom (tenth) on the log while Strathmore have recorded two wins and a loss including the prized scalp of Impala whom they topped 6-5 in their second fixture.
Elsewhere, reigning champions, Kenya Harlequins are out to reignite their challenge when they face second from bottom Nondies at RFUEA grounds.
Sixth placed Quins who are gunning to be among the select sides that have bagged the Kenya Cup on three successive seasons, have won once and lost another of their two fixtures where they went down 12-5 to promoted Homeboyz RFC on December 10.
Kanyi Gitonga’s Nondies on the other hand are raring to improve on their gallant display in their 25-15 loss to front runners KCB as they plot a first win of the season.
Unbeaten KCB host Nakuru RFC at the Lions Den and with both sides enjoying a strong start to the campaign, this fixture promises to be an intensely contested affair.
The Bankers have thus far ground out victories against Homeboyz, Strathmore and Nondies but third placed Nakuru pose their first big test of the season.
Hosts Kisumu RFC renew their rivalry with Homeboyz that started in the Eric Shirley Shield in the 2010 season when the Nairobi based outfit dominated them en route to lift the second division title.
Both sides are now playing in the big league and Saturday’s encounter in Kisumu adds another instalment to this fledgling rivalry. The Arthur Shikwe coached side lie eighth in the league, with one win and two defeats from three outings, their only win coming courtesy of that 32-5 bonus point result against Mean Machine on December 10.
While they would succumb to a 64-8 loss to Mwamba the following weekend, Kisumu come into this tie seeking to register their second win of the season but Homeboyz will be no pushovers.
They narrowly lost 22-17 to KCB on match day two before stunning champions Quins 12-5 on match day three.
That Kisumu will be playing at home against a side they can term as contemporaries is enough motivation for an exciting game of rugby in the Lake side city.
In the second tier Eric Shirley Shield, Western Bulls command the table going into Saturday’s fixtures, winning all three of their encounters with bonus point results to garner 15 points.
They play host to Homeboyz II in Kisumu seeking to make it four wins from four.
Their closest rivals, KCB II, are also unbeaten but are two points adrift. They have a tricky encounter against a Nakuru II side that have two wins and a loss from three outings.
Machine II v Strathmore II, the first instalment of the varsities battle on Saturday should be another close contest.
Mwamba II are also enjoying themselves, placed third and an encounter against former ESS champions Impala II is on the cards.
For Impala II, an unfamiliar eighth placing in the ESS should be motivation for the Bucks to rise to Mwamba’s challenge and get their season back on track.
Unbeaten Quins II play Nondies II looking to make it three wins out of three.
Kenya Cup Fixtures
Impala v Mwamba
Machine v Strathmore
Quins v Nondies
KCB v Nakuru
Kisumu v Homeboyz
Eric Shirley Shield Fixtures
Western Bulls v Homeboyz II
Machine II v Strathmore II
Quins II v Nondies II
KCB II v Nakuru II
Impala II v Mwamba II