Rugby Rugby

Leaders Quins in Nondies contest


NAIROBI, Kenya, March 9- Kenya Cup leaders, Harlequins will face-off against neighbours Nondies at Nairobi’s Jamuhuri Park Show Ground.

The defending champions who are perched atop the log, 44 points from 12 outings giving them the benefit of doubt will clash against a side that last won the national rugby 15s title in 1997.

Nondies saw their recent good run came to a stop last weekend when they fell 24-34 to KCB who lie third, this defeat coming after two wins against Mwamba (23-12) and Impala (38-0).

They renew their long standing rivalry with Quins with their chances of reclaiming the Kenya Cup after a 15 year wait all but diminished, the intention will be to register a win over Quins.

They held their visitors to a 10-10 draw in the first leg and will fancy their chances on Saturday.

Quins on the other hand have been in imperious form, winning seven straight matches that has seen them rise from seventh in the table as at January 7 to their current first place.

They have ground out wins when they have needed to and totally dominated their opponents when presented with the opportunity.

In Nondies, they meet an opponent with whom they share a deep seated rivalry, which makes the tie on Saturday even more interesting. The result of this tie will influence the league standings at the close of Saturday’s business.

Nakuru RFC (2) v KCB (3)

Eric Situma’s Nakuru RFC are having a phenomenal season, having kept in touch with the leaders, even leading the league at some point.

Some good results away from home have played a significant role in their current second place in the league.

One would summarize their achievements to date by saying they have been competitive.

They play host to third place KCB in what should be a highly charged match at their Nakuru Athletic Club home where they have not lost all season, winning all five of their matches to boot.

The Wanyore were efficient in their 32-14 disposal of Impala on match day 13. They even had the luxury of starting the experienced Gibson Weru and the explosive Oscar Ouma from the bench during that fixture.

This was probably a tactical move or a pointer towards the side’s depth and abundance of talent. They will have to summon that efficiency and the strength of character that saw them rally from 25-8 to hold KCB 25-25 in the first leg tie at the Lions Den in January.

KCB have hung in there all season, never out of the top four. While not displaying the form that saw them lift the Kenya Cup on three consecutive occasions between 2005 and 2007, they remain a tricky customer.

The Howard Okwemba coached side rallied from 8-14 to defeat Nondies 34-24 in their last Kenya Cup encounter and will be looking to build on the momentum from that match.

Playing in Nakuru against Nakuru has never been easy fodder, previous matches between the two sides have been tight and Saturday’s fixture should not be any different. Nakuru’s rugby fans can expect a good game of rugby.

Strathmore Leos (4) v Mean Machine (7)

It is the second instalment of the varsity battle as the Strathmore Leos host the University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine in a match that unwittingly serves as a trial for the upcoming Bamburi Rugby Super Series. (Both sides are constituent members of the Sharks franchise).

Back to matters Kenya Cup and there is all to play for in this fixture. The Leos are having a great season, having led the Kenya Cup a few weeks back and still in with a chance of nicking the title.

Paul Odera’s charges will go into this fixture seeking to keep in touch or possibly overhaul part of the leading trio as they stay in contention for a maiden title.

This will only be achieved by a win over a Machine side that beat them 8-5 in the first leg fixture, a result that saw the UoN team register its first win of the season.

Looking at Machine’s performance this season, it has been start-stop but much better in comparison to last season when they had a campaign to forget, finishing bottom of the log.

They have pulled a few rabbits out of the hat, registering wins over their weekend opponents, second placed Nakuru and former champions Impala.

Machine will into this fixture looking to complete the league double over their opponents and avenge their loss to the same side during the Kenya University Sports Association’s national rugby final in December.

Mwamba (5) v Impala (6) – RFUEA

Mwamba RFC began the season on a high, exchanging the Kenya Cup lead with Strathmore before a loss of form saw them lose games, drop points and slide to fifth in the standings.

They returned to winning ways with a big 63-10 win over Kisumu RFC last weekend. They will certainly have their tails up when they face an Impala side that narrowly beat them 22-21 in the first leg tie.

A win for Mwamba coupled with results from other fixtures could see them move a slot up to fourth and they will relish this opportunity to register that win.

Impala RFC have featured in the Kenya Cup’s top three in every season since 1998. With every passing moment, it is increasingly clear that they will not be in the top at the end of this campaign unless they drastically revive their fortunes.

Saturday’s fixture provides them the opportunity to do so, a second leg win over Mwamba will give them bragging rights for the season and also see them end a sequence of two straight defeats (0-38 against Nondies 14-32 against Nakuru) that have seen them concede twenty seven points.

Homeboyz (10) v Kisumu (9) – The Den, Ruaraka

The league’s basement sides meet on Saturday when last placed Homeboyz RFC host Kisumu RFC.

The two Kenya Cup debutantes have had a baptism of fire, both eking out good results as well as succumbing to some heavy defeats. It has been a steep learning curve for both sides.

Homeboyz come into this fixture on a run of eight straight defeats that have seen them tumble to last place in the standings.

Their last win incidentally came against Kisumu when they edged them 22-21 on January 7 and a in the return fixture will see them swap places with their visitors.

Kisumu come into this off the back of a 63-10 away loss to Mwamba last weekend. They will seek to turn the tables against Homeboyz and more critically, stay above their hosts. They will be gunning for a win which will serve as a fitting tribute to their departed fan and supporter Karyna Okwaro who passed away last Friday.

All Kenya Cup matches kick off at 4.30pm.

Action also continues in the Eric Shirley Shield, the unbeaten Quins II, firmly perched atop the table with a 100 percent record, having won all of their fixtures playing away to Nondies as they seek to consolidate their lead.

Second placed Western Bulls will be keen to pile the pressure when they play away to Homeboyz II while third placed KCB II have a potentially tricky fixture away to Nakuru II.

Fixtures in the Nationwide and University leagues continue too.