Kenya cup in January

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Issawrap! To the only month in a year that feels like 45 days clamped together. Things have been thick and thin one way or another in the 2017 opener,but let’s all be glad, chiefly, that the scotching January heat is subsiding. The weather man has obviously been wrong one way or another but the rains are probably earlier than they would have predicted… at least in sides where I come from.

At the rugby end, with the rains we could only be happier about the softer playing turf. With tender soils and pitches, it could translate to a few things, notably; almost zero grass burns, a number of dives at the try box and the obvious ‘Benjamin Marshall’ of the team gets to tesa the stiff guys with cheeky little quick feet and sidesteps! Get a chance and watch his tribute by the way- Benjamin Marshall, some pretty fancy skills to learn…

Moving on,

To the January action, it has been a source of mixed results here and there but good thing the month ended safely unlike the year ending of 2016, gratefulness to the Father up above. Also, my plea to be excused for I have not been up beat with the weekly postings. I can bet you I mentioned, somewhere last year, things will be done differently this year, and change is inevitable… Back to Kenya Cup, as we proceed to the unknowns of the new month I sort it better to share my two cents of what the action has been this past three weekends, the hits and misses of the month; who’s been hot and who’s not we get to know also the chaps that fattened up over the December festivities.

I believe up to that point, we are all at par, correct? Shall we…

Week Eight, where Quins danced to Deejay’s beat & Kabras held on

After the premature but deserved break of the season last year Week Eight (8) of the Kenya Cup was a jump-start to the second and final term of the cup. A test on the festivities indulgences; like I mentioned, a test on who accumulated much ‘relaxation’ than the other. We had seven fixtures as usual but then again I would not review all of them, keeping it strictly highlights.

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The one man lift though, photo credits Ragahouse

Apparently Sportpesa Quins must have had too much sauce on their goat steaks; they started off with a shock 15-10 loss to Menengai Cream Homeboyz.  A first in the season probably because they played a man less much of the second half in that game, but the visitors were a man down in the first half too courtesy of a sin bin, and how thou unlucky if you don’t capitalize on such an opportunity against a much bulkier Paul Murunga outfit… how unlucky. But they still cling at second place as per the last time I checked KenyaCup.co.ke, a relief at least.

Kabras were forced to throw let go the hook, line and sinker to nab the fish at Railways. In a cross-county clash against Mwamba they managed a narrow 37-32 win. Maybe because it did not rain at Railways, they savored a close five point win. In what was the debut of the visitors’ Ugandan international (also sensational) Philip Wokorach,  Kabras had to win, and the man proved worth the bargain. Honestly thinking though, you don’t come as the defending champs and struggle to get a hold of a match against seasoned table-toppers ( apologies, Mwamba). But when you see a line up with Lavin Asego, seasoned Humphrey Kayange and the obvious ‘Chochoo’ train, Injera, eerm.. you can bet Kabras were lucky.

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Airborne, photo credits OSBKE 

Also, did you see the pictures off that game? Hehehe, please do when you get the chance. My mentor was humbly subdued pale!

Week Nine (9), where four things happened…

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The somber moments, Photo credits Shujaa Pride

Mean Machine clearly moved in to the refurbished corner of the relegation floor… cementing their spot at the bottom. Eschuma have been having torrid days we all agree, but never caved in as much, plus they had a fantastic opener against Kabras- if you recall. For a moment after week one I was for the thought the University is rising. They lost 70-0 to an unbeaten KCB side, that we cannot have much to talk about; it was the bankers they were facing after all…

 

Kabras rugby, who until this fateful day was unbeaten in seven weekends, got a sit down from their bitter rivals, Top Fry Nakuru led by chief orchestrator, Ominde Geoffery. Booting in four penalties in the second half to overturn a 14-3 lead by the hosts, Ominde ensured a 15-14 win for Nakuru. Over at Jamhuri, Homeboyz rugby was busy with the ‘beat down’ of Resolution Impala, handing the latter a resounding 41-13 defeat. Whatever the Deejays were up to during the Christmas break, they seemingly started the year with such authority. And who told Impala they could just let go like that, where was the dignity at least, aki hii rugby yetu!

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The G.O.A.T, Photo credits KRU

Now that Blakblad –Strathmore incident guys, the latter is just having ‘withdrawal’ issues. When you heavily rely on a brood of players and they wholesomely leave you are in for a sticks and stones that can actually break your bones. Blad couldn’t face the Leos at a better time than this.

Week Ten (10); Quining the Ngong road derby since…

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Photo credits Mid-Ego

SportPesa Quins confirmed they could lose to any other team but not their immediate neighbors Impala… and the latter again seceding gladly for a second week running. You were keen to follow the first Ngong Road derby banter online, mahn! Impala had my ribs tingling… then we realized that’s all they could win off the derby action, online banter. In the rerun, they rather maintained a silent tone and seemed to focus to the issue at hand, the game, they participated in almost null banter besides the teasing by the Quins twitter guy.

Impala forfeited the online banter ‘game’ and equally lost at the pitch too, new tactics maybe? I would give them a breather, something might be cooking.

KCB completed the month extending their unbeaten run, in fancy action, against the defending champions Kabras, icing the victory with a better ‘Bazokizo’ challenge than Kenya Sevens.

Slightly on the international scene

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The Wellington moment

South Africa’s Blitzbokke are finer than wine so far in the HSBC circuit, which is great for Pan-Africanism. The New Zealand rugby team are seemingly passing hints that the technique to the cup final went away with Sir Tietjens and his oldies club, kina Forbes. Finally Kenya Sevens are gallantly managing to win something, that Wellington 7s Challenge trophy, well done gents…  what about we work on our stagnating tenth position in the standings?

There goes the monthly review of January, I might have missed a few highlights of the month in case you have a hint, two or three feel free to leave it at the comments section. Also, check out our Facebook Page for our regular postings besides site contents .

Clicked, Read, now it’s time you share…

Week 6: Five weekends later

It’s the sixth week into the Kenya Cup, I stifle at the thought that somehow the season seems to be on a slow gear. At the same length, when I recall that’s its now kedo five weeks since I last posted on the blog, my nerves sort of cringe inside. You would assume my mojo, or rather, the knack I had for spewing my thoughts on the action at the turf, is on a slow death.

I thought so too, until I decided to weigh in the realities of life, brethren, the things we do for bread out there…

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The site is back, assuming I took a sabbatical leave from the blogosphere.

The Stats so far

At five weekends, KCB slipped off of the top of things to second, changing roles with one from the Ngong Road pair.  Sportpesa Quins went top spot after a rampaging victory over Impala, the latter stuck at third. The defending champs are at the same gas pedal level they were last season, a time like this. I didn’t go opening files but I know, a time like this last season, Kabras were ‘Mid-Tablers’; they are near the mid now just a position better. But a job well done to holding down KCB last weekend to a 15-15 draw, the match must have been an edge puller. Interesting to note that, at the same stage last year-Match day 5- KCB walloped Kabras 40-15.

It has been a stained start for Strathmore Leos this season, hugely cultivated by the exit of some key players earlier in the year. They lie a dreaded, distant 13th-second from the bottom, being a campus outfit I would relatively understand the liabilities that come with transition from an outgoing lineup to a new one. Things generally don’t mix and match as quickly as you would wish.

My Kulabu lie seventh, a few points better than their favorite eighth, Top Fry Nakuru hold sixth in what is termed as to be their worst season ever so far, with sections attributing their performance to the exit of Coach  Habimana. The Red Lions, Nondies, are eighth and level with their bitter rival, Blakblad who are at ninth, Western Bulls tenth.

Impala-Quins banter match up

It is just five weekends so far, the positions are not permanent but bound for changes. Before we proceed to week 6, revisiting action at week 5 is paramount and first off the list is the ‘Notorious’ Ngong Road Derby.

 

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Quins-Impala action

The pre-game Banter was all over ahead of this match, Impala threw a spade, Quins would rally with a sledge hammer; Quins would try a stone, Impala would respond with a rock. The social media platforms were waaay hype for a whole week. I think Impala had the best shot at this ‘tag-of-war’ banter, I mean a Kulabu guy hardly supports Quins, let me be!

Come game day the results were a pale shadow of a side that just a few weeks back had thwarted KCB to lift the Floodies cup. 28-10 was the full time score, I expected anything closer than that score line. But trying to relate the results to what I see in football, sigh, Arsenal unknowingly looses to Man U even when they are in form. Derbies though, mkiolewa mnaoleka tu

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At the end of it all, Impala won the pre-game banter, Quins won the game itself. Draw? No?! Okay.

On to Week Six 

Match Day six is nigh, and teams are hell bent to head into the season’s holiday break on a high. Also, at the Bench, I am hell bent to give my two cents on Week six clashes on who will reign this coming weekend.

Mwamba vs Top Fry Nakuru

After last weekend’s costume fixture against Mean Machine, we can only wait to see what Mwamba RC are plotting for this weekend. Maybe a barbecue side event, because mafuta ya Top Fry… but instead its a farming experience!

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Last these two met, at Match Day 14 2015/16 season, Nakuru, the host then, had a 34-6 win over Mwamba. But with the much closeness they share on the standings now, the host will be fighting to go up while Nakuru will have to win to regroup its huge fan base who are throwing questions about the team this season. Also, interesting to watch would be the seasoned winger Collins Injera, if he will be drafted, playing at fly-half position.

This is the type of clash I would not favor a city club, no love lost though for Kulabu, but Nakuru would seem to walk away with a win here (+5)

Nondescripts vs Resolution Impala Saracens

It has always been a one-way traffic in this fixture, always in favor of Impala. Last encounter, Match Day 18, Impala 63-8 Nondies. And week 6 would have seen such liely action…

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But then news rolled in that the Red Lions have lost a seasoned Center, Ogeto Gacheo… A stalwart of his time, sustained a spinal injury at match Day 5 and succumbed hours later after a successful operation.

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It is with a heavy heart that I would wish to pass my condolences to the family of the late Gacheo, the closest of friends and the distant ones, his club Nondescripts RFC and his ardent fans. May he find great solace in the worlds beyond.

Subsequent to that, the next two fixtures for the Nondies game week 6 & 7 have been postponed in favor of Gacheo’s befitting send-off. There will be however a  Touch tourney at  Jamhuri Grounds on the 9th of December, in honor of the late thereafter a fundraiser at Red Lion’s Club. Kindly do find your way and trot down to the two venues for Gacheo.

Rest In Peace Gacheo!

 

Mean Machine vs Kabras Sugar

After surviving a season’s shocker in Week 1, Kabras will be visitors to Mean Machine looking to affirm the narrow 14-13 win at Kakamega Show Grounds. The hosts, Machine, are out to tell Kabrasians it wasn’t by luck but sheer will.

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Will the Eschuma pull a close one? Lying 12th with a single point coupled by last week’s lose to Mwamba, it will be a toll order. They might have a chance though, should they peg their inspiration from the opening round performance against Kabras.

A draw against KCB must have derailed the defending champs on their campaign, and they should not risk a loss this weekend lest they fall far off the leading log. A win is a win, right? But not the sort recorded against Machine in Round one. Being defending champs something was amiss in that match.

…Kabras wins +7

In other clashes…

These other clashes of the weekend are pretty much a one-sided affair on paper, it wouldn’t do much to have a break down on the three remaining clashes;

Western Bulls vs KCB (KCB Win +20)
Blakblad vs Sportpesa Harlequins (Quins way +12)
Strathmore Leos vs Menengai Cream Homeboyz (HBR Win +8)

I would have also mentioned about the Kenya 7s and the recent Dubai debacle but let them have their way, its a new order at the helm of things in the team, at least some breathing space as we ‘season our chocking ropes’ when they start giving less of the bargain. For now we hope Capetown should be better!

#TwendeGameTujengeGame

 

 

 

Kenya Cup returns

The much anticipated kick off of the Kenya Cup is finally nigh, the gruesome three-four weekends of watching the now cliché dominance of the All blacks outfit are about to get a kick for life. Considering that this weekend we have nearly zero rugby to watch/attend, the thought of the 2016-2017 season kick off should be a sigh of relief, from the agony of having to plot a whole weekend with a clique of football addicts. Better still to have a hint of a few pointers for the up coming season.

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These are the trying times of a sports enthusiast, you are watching your Kenya Cup team thwart a victory out of another but on the extreme end your bet on Sportpesa  is heading to the gutters, because Manchester…  you had better placed your money on the Kenya cup fixture!

Moving on with the theme though, the 2015-2016 season was an interesting one with both the colorful, grey and pitch black experiences .  We witnessed fantastic rugby action with the double header weekends, we had surprising results (when Blad beat Nondies & Kulabu ‘rained’ supreme and so much more). Not to forget a resurgent whiff of the team from Ngong road and the swift return of the Cup to Western Kenya, a moment that was worth the attendance.

Heading into 2016-2017, the script can only improve, with the standards getting better with every passing weekend, increased corporate involvement and explosive talent on the loose, the stakes are higher than we think. A quick review of the just ended National  7s circuit, had me jot down a few pointers worth to look up to as November 5 draws near… have a look:

Menengai uprising

Everything in existence has its peak performance period, what I would refer as ‘The Zone’. Stepping stones gently and willingly fall in place for you and not just by sheer luck, but hard work and resilience. Of course investment has to do its bit too.

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Former PM, Raila Odinga presents Menengai Cream Homeboyz with the 2016 Dala 7s winners cup

That was the footing with Homeboyz rugby at the Sevens circuit, scooping a record four cup titles of the available six and managing all cup final appearances. Opportunity had finally met hard work. With the entourage of seasoned players from Strathmore the Deejays became a lethal force, they ticked the right check boxes. Kabras Sugar had the same result last season and finally getting the priceless silverware back to Western Kenya. Mind you, it was just on their second attempt at the cup final, falling to KCB in the first attempt.

After much galore at the shorter version, Homeboyz should reciprocate the same performance in the longer stint. Assuming we discredit their Floodies 2016 performance and start on a clean slate, they should be a force to reckon with in upcoming weekends

Kabras title defence

Two seasons in the Kenya Cup and they are a force of reckon, spurring interests from all quarters, you’d think they have been there for eons.

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Defending Kabras Rugby line up a photo with the 2015/2016 Kenya Cup trophy

It would be unwise not to mention that besides Impala, they are the other team that beat Homeboyz in the sevens circuit, doing in a domineering fashion at the Christie Sevens. That done away with though, the team from the sugar belt did some pretty interesting signings… just look at the previous season’s team and add to that Dan Sikuta and Philip Wokorach, depth I tell you!

Wait we haven’t even talked about Brian Tanga and Aluda Beda, that sensational duo.

Resolution Impala repechage

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Resolution Impala Saracens line up a scrum against KCB in last season’s encounter.

Not a repechage as such, but a second attempt at the Kenya Cup is what I mean;  just basking in some minute wittiness of using technical terms.

Not many vetted Impala to make it to the cup final at the start of last season, up to mid way into the season. They hard let out the spikes and cut across any team, the incorporation of the global Saracens and Resolution Health worked, just look at the club’s name, Resolution Impala Saracens. There is harmony and all entities are well represented- Imagine if they got into another deal with a bank for instance, think of the names… Equity Resolution Impala Saracens, lol.

But that’s just depth and plenty of hard work by the players and management as a whole, taking a case study of Kabras and their road to the cup final a second time and winning it. I wouldn’t be shocked if we have a repeat final of the two. They already showed the grit at the Floodies 2016, taking the onus off, up to then the defending champs, KCB.  We should be prepped for a resolute season from this Ngong Road outfit.

Championship league

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This is a tier just as equally competitiveness as the Kenya Cup. Drawing top two finishers from all Nationwide regions and last season’s Kenya Cup drops, the Championship will be an intense one. Many a times we selfishly keep our focus on the Kenya Cup, forgetting the minor leagues we have- trust me that’s where superb action is. Only thing that is hardly present is your presence, yes, you the enthusiast!

Ask any player that has played in a competitive Nationwide set up; Rift Valley and Western regions, they know how competitive it is. But that aside, the key note is to have you diversify your span of attending rugby games. We always want more action, no we have it. In your weekend schedules don’t forget to attend a game or two of the Championship league. Better yet , you can pick a favorite there too, all the way to the Nationwide league.

Lastly, I would fancy a corporate involvement in the league, it would be so sad to launch a noble idea and see teams fail to honor fixtures.

The season long derbies

If at all you never manage to watch and/or attend weekend fixtures, then be smart and pick enticing duels to attend. The derbies season is back; Ngong Road derby, Rai Cup derby, University derby, Minnows derby, liveliest-and-loudest fanatics derby…

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Ngong Road derby

 

So many derbies are back make sure you don’t miss.

And just as I sign off champs you can opt to up your wrist game and grab a branded shambala off #TheBenchKE  for only KSh. 350 ($3.2), get in touch at 0738221661.

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The Bench KE branded shambala

Tag a friend, who should tag another friend who should also tag another friend.  All for the thrill of the game

#TwendeGameTujengeGame