NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – Unbeaten Kabras Sugar will look to keep their invincible form intact when the Kenya Cup action enters match week 10, but they should be keeping caution as the side they face in Kakamega, Homeboyz RFC, was one of the only two teams to inflict defeat on them last season.
Homeboyz beat Kabras 30-12 on match day eight at their Kakamega backyard, but the latter managed to bounce back when the two clashed again in the semi-finals winning 29-13 in Nairobi.
The two clash once again on Saturday in Kakamega, with Kabras under the tutelage of South African tactician Henley du Plessis on top of their game with an enviable nine-match winning streak.
“What’s inspiring so far in the season, is the level of commitment shown by the Kenyan players, rugby is really picking up and the skills of the players have improved. Our next month is an uphill battle but I think the boys are ready for it. They are very disciplined and that is a core value if a team is to be successful. We are very strict on the discipline,” du Plessis told Kenyacup.co.ke.
Kabras took victory over Kenya Harlequins last weekend, in what was termed as their toughest test this season, and they look to keep the hunt against Homeboyz.
Du Plessis has made only two changes from the team that won against Quins. Winger Felix Ayange and lock Charlton Mokua are recalled to the starting line-up taking over from Paul Abuto who will start on the bench and Brian Juma who is not in the match day squad.
The tactician will look on to the inspiration from sensational Ugandan Philip Wokarach who has been in sizzling form for the Kakamega based side this season.
Meanwhile, sixth placed Homebozy will look for inspiration from within to charge for a place in the play-offs.
The Simon Odongo coached side will be boosted with the availability of burly eighth man Joshua Chisanga who has been included in the 23-man squad but will start off the bench.
Chisanga has not featured for Homeboyz this season after several months in Poland and interestingly, the last time he featured for the side was during the semi-finals against Kabras last season.
“His return is timely and will help us a lot. You can’t replace his experience. He has recovered from an ankle injury during the repechage,” Homeboyz tactician Odongo told RagaHouse.
In the other interesting fixture of the weekend, Nakuru RFC will face siblings Menengai Oilers in the Nakuru Derby at the Nakuru Athletic Club, alias ‘Suguta Valley’.
Nakuru who are in the risk of missing out a place in the play-off for a second consecutive season will welcome back Kenyan international Oscar Ouma who is set to play his first 15s game for Wanyore in close to two years.
Ouma pairs Tyson Asiago at midfield as Hannington Wabwire and Walter Okoth start on the wings. Crispin Onyango is at fullback while Martin Muita will be the team’s joint.
Oilers lost 22-24 to Impala Saracens on matchday 9 and are also desperate for results to avoid dropping to the relegation zone in their maiden Kenya Cup campaign.
Kenya 7s international Harold Anduvate replaces Aziz Annan in the match day squad and will skipper the team while Derrick Keyoga comes in for Peter Wanjala on the right wing.
Elsewhere at the Lions Den in Nairobi, defending champions KCB will take Impala as they look to keep their hold on second position and a probable haul at first if they win and Kabras fall to Homeboyz in Kakamega.
Head coach Curtis Olago has made four changes from the side that beat Strathmore last weekend.
Kenya Simbas skipper Davies Chenge is up for his first start since the Rugby World Cup repechage and replaces Nick Ongeri in the second row. The latter also played his first game last weekend since last season’s Kenya Cup final.
Scrum-half Samuel Asati replaces Michael Wanjala (bench), Essau Otieno comes in for Brian Omondi (bench) as the second five-eighth while Kenya 7s captain Jacob Ojee starts on the blind wing replacing Stafford Abeka.
Felix Ojoo is back on the blind-side swapping with Brian Nyikuli (bench).
Impala will meanwhile hand Ugandan Saul Kivumbi his maiden appearance and he will start from the bench alongside Edmund Anya, Richard Sidindi and Kevin Okeyo.
Sammy Oliech is back to the fray after sitting out in the win over Oilers and takes over from Sidindi at fullback as Xavier Bett starts at fly-half to see Antony Nyandigisi move to midfield and Samson Onsomu traditionally at number 9.
The only front-row change sees Davies Makori replaces Edwin Gatungo (bench). In the backline, Derrick Mayar (blind wing) replaces Bradley Ochieng.
-Additional information courtesy Raga House
Kenya Cup weekend fixtures:
Mwamba vs Mean Machine- 2pm The Den
KCB vs Impala -4pm The Den
Nondies vs Strathmore Leos -Nondies
Kabras Sugar vs Homeboyz -Kakamega
Blak Blad vs Kenya Harlequin -KU
Nakuru vs Menengai Oilers -NAC