Impala bounce back from a shaky start to retain Kabeberi 7's

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Sep 10, 2021
  • Impala bounced back from a shaky start on the first day to beat Menengai Oilers and retain the Kabeberi 7's title. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Menengai Oilers' Hughes Anjera is a lone ranger against Strathmore University who won the play-off. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Impala women's team won the Aberdeen Shikoyi trophy. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

The top seeds at the George Mwangi Kabeberi Memorial Sevens wilted under stiff competiion by the second tier that paved way for Impala RFC to successfully defend the title on Sunday at the RFUEA ground.

Only Menengai Oilers, coached by Gibson Weru, a former Kenya Sevens assistant captain defied all odds to reach their first final. Homeboyz, the top seeds narrowly lost to Strathmore University 10-13 in the main cup quarters.

Nakuru RFC, the second seeds dropped to the second tier Challenge Trophy after a disastrous opening day while Mean Machine, the fourth seeds also failed to replicate their form in the opening tournament in Mombasa and competed in the Challenge Trophy.

Impala who made two changes to their squad - Hannington Mmbaka, Anthony Nyandigisi, and Quinton Ongo - characteristically started slowly and were rattled by Blak Blad on the opening day before upsetting Menengai Oilers to reach the quarters. 

On their path to the title defence, they had to do it again by playing KCB for the second time in a week. A win in Mombasa must have given them confidence because Impala reached the final four by knocking out the bankers who also made changes to their squad.

Mitch Ocholla, the new Nakuru RFC coach had predicted that any of the top teams could win Kabeberi Sevens and his words rang true on the second day as his former team, Strathmore University finished third by beating Kabras in the play-off. 

KCB were unable to re-charge their batteries after a loss to Impala in the quarters. They were beaten 26-12 by Nondies in the fifth place playoff semis. 

Final: Impala 22 Menengai Oilers 5

Stung by a loss to Blak Blad on the opening day defending champions Impala dusted themselves up to retain the diadem by beating Menengai Oilers on Sunday at the RFUEA ground.

Paol Mutsami scored the opening try initiated by Mark Kwemoi who broke through and offloaded the ball to Sammy Motari.

Kwemoi scored the second try which saw Impala lead 12-0. On the stroke of halftime, Motari crossed the line for a 17-0 lead.

Ian Minjire scored the fourth try to stretch the lead 22-0 before Menengai Oilers got the consolation try.

Weru was not disappointed: "I couldn’t really ask for much from my players because we did our best. We got to the semis in Mombasa and today we are in the final and that is progress. It is the small issues of mentality and experience that cost us today because we committed very school boy errors."

He added: "I am proud of the boys though because for a team which is on the second year playing in the circuit, this is no mean feat. We take the lessons and we have one more weekend to prepare before Prinsloo at home in Nakuru. We have set the bar high but I can’t put pressure on my players that we must win; No. We just need to keep improving."

Samuel Motari, the Impala captain said: "Oilers are a very good team and we knew that from the word go. We knew they are fast and good ball players and if we give them space, then they will hurt us. We made sure we denied them space to play and it worked out well for us."

The skipper admitted: "I wasn’t in the team last season but I definitely know it feels great to defend a trophy. We are pleased to win here after falling short last weekend and hopefully this is a start of better things in the future."

Play off: Strathmore University 21 Kabras 12

The students were quick off the starting blocks with Lucas Opal scoring a converted try. Brian Tanga replied for Kabras, dotting dowd and converting to level.

John Oduk restored the lead for Strathmore with a converted try . Although Philiph Wokorach replied for Kabras, Strathmore scored their third for the win. 

Cup Semi finals

Menengai Oilers reached their fiirst main cup final in only their second year when they edged out Strathmore University 22-17 to set a date with Impala. 

In this match, Dennis Juma scored the first try for Strathmore University but Menengai Oilers replied with a try by Haron Anduvate. 

Strathmore University scored a converted try to lead 12-5 although the lead was cut to two points following an Anduvate try for Menengai Oilers.

On resumption, Sam Muregi scored a try for Menengai Oilers to lead 15-12 but Alex Olaba initiated a try by Lucas Opal for Strathmore to retake the lead 17-15. 

Anduvate crossed the line for his third and a conversion saw them win 22-17. 

In the other semis, Impala beat Kabras 24-17. Mark Kwemoi's converted try saw Impala lead 7-0. Richard Sidindi added the second stretching the lead to 12-0 before Kabras replied with a try by Wokorach which Brian Tanga converted as they trailed 7-12 at the break.

Impala stretched their lead to 19-7 when Paum Mutsami scored under the posts. Fabian Olando replied for Kabras who were reduced to six after Dan Sikuta was sent to the naughty chair.

Mutsami completed his brace to seal the win despite a late surge by Kabras which saw Wokorach cross the chalk line for a converted try.

Cup quarter finals 

Impala beat KCB for the second time in one week to reach the semi-finals. The eventual 17-0 win was achieved after a slow start. Kwemoi scored the only try in the first half for Impala. 

In the second half, Richard Sidindi extended Impala's lead to 10-0. Anthony Nyandigisi, one of the three replacements after Mombasa scored the third try after KCB failed to handle a high ball raised by by Robin Kiplangat.

Kabras reached the semis with a 29-10 win over Nondies while Menengai Oliers slid past Quins 31-5. They led 12-0 at halftime.

Try scorers for Menengai Oilers were Dan Abuonji, Eric Ombasa, Amos Onyinkwa, Derrick Keyoga and Harold Onyinkwa. Abuonji added four conversions while Aaron Oforywoth scored the consolation try for Quins. 

Strathmore University edged out Homeboyz 13-10. Opal drilled a sudden-death penalty for Strathmore after the teams tied 10-10. 

Leonard Mugaisi scored an unconverted try for Homeboyz and Alex Olaba leveled for the students. Mugaisi races over for his second and Humphrey Owuor missed the conversion before Opal's penalty. 

Trophy Challenge

Nakuru RFC edged out hosts Mwamba 17-12 to clinch the title which was worth eight points. KCB finished fifth after beating Homeboyz 24-12. 

Dennis Mwanja, the KCB 7's coach explained: "We made a change of personnel and it worked out very well for us. We played better rugby and above all, we fought as a unit. It is great we improve from Mombasa and this now shows we can go better. We  keep getting fitter and fitter and now next time we can challenge for the main cup."

Mitch Ocholla was disappointed: "it is disappointing to drop one level from last weekend but all the same we went home with something. We had a few errors especially in the quarters which came on to haunt us. We still need to sharpen up a bit but these are young boys, most playing in the circuit for the first time so those errors are bound to happen."

George Mwangi Kabeberi Memorial Sevens 

Main Cup quarter finals 

Homeboyz 10 Strathmore University 13, Menengai Oilers 31 Quins 5, Kabras 29 Nondies 10, KCB 0 Impala 17; Semi-finals: Strathmore 17 Menengai Oilers 22, Kabras 17 Impala 24; Final: Menengai Oilers 5 Impala 22.

Play off: Strathmore University 21 Kabras Sugar 12.

Fifth place playoff semis: Homeboyz 10 Quin 0, Nondies 12 KCB 26; Final: Homeboyz 12 KCB 24. 

Challenge Trophy quarter finals

Daystar University 0 Mean Machine 12,  Blak Blad 12 Nakuru RFC 29, Makueni 0 Mwamba 7, Kisii RFC 19 Catholic University 24; Semi-finals: ; Final: Nakuru RFC 17 Mwamba 12.

Day one results

Pool A: Homeboyz, Nondies, Mwamba, Daystar University; Homeboyz 22 Mwamba 14, Nondies 12 Daystar University 12, Homeboyz 22 Daystar University 0, Nondies 19 Mwamba 17, Mwamba 12 Daystar University 12, Homeboyz 35 Nondies 12.

Pool B: Nakuru, Quins, KCB, Kisii; Nakuru RFC 5 KCB 29, Quins 19 Kisii RFC 15, Nakuru RFC 12 Kisii RFC 14, Quins 0 KCB 29,  KCB 26 Kisii RFC 5, Nakuru 0 Quins 12.

Pool C: Menengai Oliers, Impala, Blak Blad, Catholic University; Menengai Oilers 36 Blak Blad 7, Impala RFC 26 Catholic University 0, Menengai Oilers 47 Catholic University 7, Impala 7 Blak Blad 21, Menengai Oilers 12 Impala 15.

Pool D: Mean Machine, Kabras, Strathmore University, Makueni; Mean Machine 10 Strathmore University 19, Kabras 24 Makueni 0, Mean Machine 10 Makueni 14, Kabras 28 Strathmore University 7, Blak Blad 26 Catholic University 12, Strathmore University 19 Makueni 5, Mean Machine 5 Kabras 7.

Compiled from KRU 

Additional reporting by Alex Wafula