Nakuru wins Titans Cup, ready for Kenya Cup

By francis marangu
Nov 08, 2015
  • Nakuru captain Edwin Makori leads teammate in celebrating after narrowly beating KCB at the RFUEA ground on Saturday. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Nakuru RFC won the inaugural Titans Cup by beating Kenya Commercial Bank 33-29 at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa ground on Saturday.

The pre-season match which was organized and sponsored by Titan Promotions saw Nakuru collect Sh. 200,000 prize money and KCB banked Sh. 100,000.

After losing the first two pre-season friendlies to Strathmore University and Kabras Sugar, Nakuru fielded a strong side for the match. They were dominant at the scrum and lineout giving KCB no chance especially in first half.

Arthur Owira gave KCB a 5-0 lead in the fourth minute with a try at the left corner. Four minutes later, KCB were penalised for an infringement in their half but Martin Muita failed to slot in the resultant penalty.

Within two minutes, KCB's poor tackling came to the fore as Mike Okombe muscled his way past their backline to touch down. Muita converted to give Nakuru a 7-5 lead. Muita missed another penalty in the 20th minute as Nakuru’s pressure started to yield.

KCB were reduced to 14 after 25 minutes of play when Moses Amusala was sent to the sin bin for an infringement at the scrum. Nakuru capitalized on the numerical advantage and from a scrum down Martin Owila crossed the chalk line. Muita added the extras to extend the lead to 14-5.

Geoffrey Ominde touched down at the half hour mark for a 19-5 lead to Nakuru. A minute to the breather, Ominde and Muita were sent to the sin bin just as Marlin Mukolwe scored a try for KCB from a quickly taken penalty.

Indiscipline reduced Nakuru to 12

With a 19-10 halftime lead and down by two men, Nakuru was in for a tough 10 minutes of the second half. Indiscipline also saw Okombe sent to the sin bin moments into the half leaving Nakuru with 12 players on the pitch.

Their defense stood tall to neutralize the numerical disadvantage. “We were able to adjust the game and use versatile players who were already on the pitch since our number nine  and 10 were out. There was no need for a substitution,” head coach Dominique Habimana said.

In that period, Nakuru managed to score a penalty try after pushing hard from a scrum, Don Aluoch converting for a 26-10 lead. Winger Gramwell Bunyasi made it 33-10 with a try in the 50th minute and Muita converted.

The comfortable lead allowed Habimana to bring in his new faces but it nearly backfired as KCB clawed back to cut the deficit to three points. James Njenga, Hughes Anjera, Emmanuel Ochieng and Moses Arara all fresh from Menengai High School were introduced and Nakuru’s play changed.

Essau Otieno scored a try in the 55th minute before Nelson Nyandat added another in the 75th. Otieno converted for a 33-22 score. Brothers James Kilonzo and Peter Kilonzo combined well for the last try.

James passed to Peter at the halfline before he danced through the Nakuru defense to touch down.

Ominde was named man-of-the-match pocketing Sh. 5,000. “The idea is to keep on improving no matter whether we win or lose,” Habimana noted saying they are prepared to reclaim the Kenya Cup title they lost to KCB last season.

“Even though we lost in the semis last season, we had a winning run of 13 games which had never been achieved before.” He added; “We have worked on our mental strength and endurance ready to win this season. If we can't win, there is no reason for us to even give it a try.”

Quins win curtain raiser

Kenya Harlequin won the curtain raiser beating Homeboyz RFC 32-10 and Sh.75,000 cash prize. Homeboyz went home with Sh.50,000.

Early into the game, Homeboyz capitalized on their phases to score the first try through Collins Shikholi in the fourth minute. Kevin Masai converted for a for 7-0 lead.

Johnstone Muhanji gave Quins enough attacking options with powerful breaks. His first of such breaks was in the 15th minute laying ground for Hosea Odhiambo to touch down with Kevin Keegan converting to tie the scores 7-7.

Kevin Kabue touched down from a rolling maul in the 25th minute. Felix Ayange added another try in the 36th minute after a break by Muhanji who slotted in a penalty at the stroke of halftime for a 20-7 lead.

Ten minutes into second half, Masai slotted a penalty for Homeboyz before former Impala RFC winger now with Quins Pius Shiundu missed his attempt. Shiundu atoned for that miss with a try at the hour mark.

Max Theuri picked the ball from a ruck and passed to Patrice Agunda who fed Shiundu to barge over.

In this match Quins was let down by poor kicking that derailed their play upfront. Substitute Haroun Lubisia's attempted clearance from his try line ended in the hands of a high jumping Agunda.

He was tackled as he went for the try but Quins picked up possession from the ruck to score through Hosea Odhiambo who completed his brace.