MOMBASA, Kenya, Sep 3 – Having lost to Kenya Harlequins at the same venue in the final last year, Homeboyz RFC made right the wrongs, delivering a performance worthy of a final to beat Nakuru RFC 17-7 and clinch the season opening Driftwood 7s in Mombasa on Sunday.
This was a brilliant start to their circuit title defense as they put themselves in gear with a maximum harvest of 22 pints as head coach Paul Murunga declares they are firming up to defend their crown with pride.
“It was a very tough match but today we managed to seal a bit of our weaknesses. Yesterday against Nakuru we scored two tries and today we scored three. So I am pleased with the effort the boys have put in. It wasn’t easy but it is a great way to start the season,” Murunga said after the match.
His opposite number Mitch ‘Mojo Jojo’ Ochollah was gracious in defeat, saying he was more pleased with what his boys had put in considering he had a squad composed half by rookies.
“Our main target was to get to the semi finals and when we surpassed that, I just told the boys to go on and enjoy themselves. They didn’t crumble under pressure despite the fact that most of them are playing this tournament for the first time so it’s all good for us,” Ochollah, a former Kenya Sevens coach said.
Nakuru came into the match breathing venom especially with memory of their slim loss to a last minute try yesterday.
They started the game just how they had wished for, Momaye Akweyi touching down after a struggle with Cyprian Kuto that left his jersey in shreds.
Akweyi had powered through Homeboyz bodies with the try line in the horizon and he didn’t mind his jersey shredding as he stretched to dot down. Skipper Geoffrey Ominde kicked home the extras as Ochollah’s men went 7-0 up.
Mugaisi, named tournament Most Valuable Player ensured Homeboyz went to the break with a reduced distance, touching down after an offload from Michael Wanjala who had paced away from his chasers to find space inside the 22.
At the start of the second half, Homeboyz strode further ahead, Mugaisi scoring his second try of the game with a great kick and chase, speeding over almost four Nakuru players before dotting down at the extreme end for a 10-7 lead.
Keith Wasike then ensured Homeboyz was within touching distance of glory, dotting down under the posts snaking through a window of space. Humphrey Owuor booted home the conversion for a 17-7 lead.
-Kulabu win Challenge Trophy-
Earlier on, Mwamba ensured their journey back to the city was not accompanied with tears following their opening day blues as they picked eight points after beating KCB 12-10 in the Challenge Trophy final.
Tournament top try and points scorer Ahmed Shabaan gave the bankers a 5-0 lead, but Matt Wanjia ensured the spoils were shared by half time with a good conversion on the left after speeding away from a turnover.
In the second half, KCB had a chance to extend their lead, but Shabaan knocked the ball from a swiftly executed counter Darwin Mukidza releasing Jacob Ojee with a neat offload who in turn sprayed the ball to Shabaan.
They were punished for losing the golden opportunity, Daniel Taabu gliding away under the posts to dot down and Wanjia converting for a 12-5 lead.
Ojee reduced the deficit for KCB after an offload from Mukidza who had done well to suck in three players wide before releasing Ojee. He could however not convert and Mwamba racing away with a two point lead.
In the third and fourth place play off, Menengai Oilers were in a class of their own as they saw off Mean Machine 21-0 in a battle of pre-tournament underdogs.
Homeboyz, Nakuru, Oilers and Mean machine will now headline each of the four pools for next weekend’s Kabeberi Sevens by virtue of reaching the semi finals in Mombasa.