Nairobi, Kenya, Mar 24- Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) RFC sustained immense pressure from Kabras before edging out the Western Kenya based side 29-24 and retain the Kenya Cup title with an unbeaten run.
Kabras who were determined to revenge for both last season’s loss in the final and this year’s regular season loss looked primed to cause an upset especially after going ahead at some point in the opening half, but they could not sustain a spirited KCB side.
KCB ran in four tries, three of which were converted and booted home one penalty for their 29 points while Kabras ran in three tries, none of which were converted and added in three penalties.
Ugandan Philip Wokarach was Kabras’s best player on the pitch, contributing to 14 of the 24 points the sugar belt side had, but they will live to rue their missed conversions as it would have made a massive difference in the match.
Charles Cardovillis’ men put up a gallant fight especially in the final five minutes of the game, pressing the bankers inside their own 22 and were only undone when they dropped the ball and KCB kicked out after the buzzer had gone.
Former Kenya Simbas skipper Brian Nyikuli broke the deadlock after powering over the try line from a rack a few metres away from the box. Darwin Mukidza booted home the extras as the holders went 7-0 up.
The home side were boosted numerically when Kabras lost Asuman Mugerwa to the sin bin and right from where he plucked off from the bankers manufactured a try.
Wokarach however reduced the deficit when he booted home a penalty and Kabras went ahead for the first time in the game via a Johnston Mungao try.
KCB were punished for losing their heads from an easy line out, trying to pass the ball quickly but Mungao pounced to intercept and race down to dot down.
George Nyambua stretched Kabras’ lead further with their second try of the match when he sneaked in under heavy KCB bodies off a maul to make it 13-7 for his side. Wokarach’s effort from the conversion in what looked like an easy position for him went wide.
Kabras had managed to bully KCB off the game bumping their strong bodies and at some point, none of the KCB players wanted to go into contact after some heavy knocks from the visitors.
The never say die bankers, pushed on by their passionate coach Curtis Olago crawled back into a one point lead. Brian Omondi greased through a tackle to dot down after a beautiful offload from Peter Kilonzo with Mukidza adding in the extras.
The holders ensured they went into the break with a healthy 19-13 lead when Jacob Ojee dotted down on the left after some patient build up which resulted in the ball being swung to the left catching the Kabras backs asleep.
After the break, Kabras came aiming to overturn the lead and they kicked off well with Wokarach booting home from a penalty. However, the six-point lead was restored when Mukidza responded also via a penalty.
The game’s tempo picked up when the dancing feet of Philip Wokarach lit up the full-to-capacity Lion’s Den, the Ugandan dancing away from his markers on the right before extending a hand over the line.
The try took the game to a 22-21 score and Wokarach should have taken the side into the lead from the conversion, but he hit wide.
Seeing that the had dodged a bullet, KCB went on the attack from the restart and the superb martin Owila took them eight points clear with a wonderfully taken try, pushing away to burly Kabras players with one arm and extending to touch down under the posts.
Mukidza converted as KCB went 29-21 up.
But, there was to be late drama with Kabras not willing to let go of the title in sight and they managed to reduce the gap with Wokarach’s third penalty of the game. However, despite the late effort, KCB’s resistance pulled them through.