Kenya Cup match day three preview
By Dennis Gatuha | Thu 29 Nov, 2018 08:30

The 2018/19 Kenya Cup season enters match day three on Saturday Dec 1 with six matches on the car.s

Nondies will take on Menengai Oilers at 2pm at the Impala Club before paving way for a Impala Saracens vs Strathmore Leos clash at 4pm. Mwamba travel to The Den to face KCB while Kenya Harlequin square off with Homeboyz at the Jamuhuri Showground.

Blak Blad will host fellow students Mean Machine with the ninth edition of the Rai derby (Kabras-Top Fry Nakuru) been staged at the Kakamega Showgrounds.

Three teams head into the round with a 100% win record-Kabras, Impala and Nondies, and as many without a single win-Blak Blad, Strathmore Leos and Mwamba.

We preview the sextet of matches below.

Kabras Sugar vs Top Fry Nakuru- Kakamega Showgrounds, 4pm.

A Rai derby can be many things. Dull is, however, not one of them.

This fixture is always closely-fought and six of the eight played so far have been won by a converted try or less: a 15-6 Nakuru win in December 2015 and a 30-6 Kabras victory in December last year are the only exceptions. As a result both sides will have to be clinical as a missed try-scoring opportunity or a spurned kick at goal can be the difference between winning and losing.

Concentration till the final whistle, previous editions of this fixture have proven, is a key ingredient in winning this duel as two of the past eight fixtures have been won within the last two minutes: A last play Geoffrey Ominde drop goal earned Nakuru a 19-18 win in January 2017, and a last gasp Felix Ayange gave Kabras a come-from-behind 19-15 victory in November 2016.

Interestingly, these sides enjoy playing in the other's backyard: Kabras have won the all the three Rai derbies played in Nakuru while Nakuru have three out of five wins in Kakamega.

Wanyore have deadly firepower in their back line and a great play-maker in Simon Wariuki; but can their lightweight forwards pack find a way of outfoxing their bulkier and more experienced Kabras counterparts? The outcome of this battle will go a long way in determining the final result.

KCB vs Mwamba- KCB Sports Club, 4pm.

Mwamba's search for their first win of the season takes them to The Den this weekend where a wounded KCB lies in wait.

Kulabu lost to Quins and Homeboyz in the opening pair of matches, and a slow start was a common feature in both of those losses. The Railway-based side rallied from a 19-point half-time deficit to within three points against Quins and from a 11-point half-time arrears to within four points of the Deejays.

If they are to emerge from The Den with anything more than a losing bonus then they must aim at an improved first-half performance.

The Bankers, on their part, will be seeking to bounce back after going down to Nondies on match day two; players like Oscar Sorano, who has scored in every competitive game KCB have played in since the Floodies final, will be key in this regard.

KCB have had a stranglehold on this clash in recent years having won seven of the last eight meets between these two, including three in 2018.

With the Simbas back, don't be surprised to see flyer Collins Injera line up for Mwamba and the likes of Darwin Mukidza, Andrew Amonde and Peter Kilonzo for KCB.

Nondies vs Menengai Oilers- Impala Grounds, 2pm

Menengai Oilers are back to the capital on Saturday, this time to face a resurgent Nondies side.

Second-placed Nondies are the pre-match favorites after back-to-back win in the first two matches and will head into this one aware that a loss will definitely do their new-found momentum more harm than good.

For Oilers, they will hope they can sneak in a surprise akin to the one against Harlequins. If they are to win this, Oilers must find a way of containing the Nondies pack that has scored all of the side's eight tries this season. They are also not short of potency among the backs with players like the big Benjamin Marshall, the snipping Ian Mabwa and Moses Begi.

Derrick Keyoga, Azziz Allan, Clinton Odhiambo , Anduvate Harold and Rashid Shimoka are among the Oilers who may prove a handful for the Red Lions.

Homeboyz vs Kenya Harlequin- Jamuhuri Showground, 4pm.

This encounter will be an acid test on Homeboyz player depth since they will be without about 17 players due to the upcoming Dubai 7s. The backs department, centre especially, will be the most affected as 14 of the unavailable 17 are backs.

The Deejays may however have their five Kenya Simbas back, but this will do little to remedy the aforementioned problem as only one of them, Mohammed Omollo, is a back. 

Quins, on their part, will be seeking to put a disappointing defeat to Menengai Oilers behind them. Though they have won just one of the last five clashes against Homeboyz, the Ngong Road side will surely fancy their chances against a Deejays side nowhere near full strength.

Unlike his Homeboyz counterpart, coach Cardovillis will have majority of his players at his disposal, including the likes of Wilson Kopondo, Willy Ambaka and William Reeves, who impressed on his debut at the Impala Floodies.

Impala Saracens vs Strathmore Leos-Impala Grounds, 4pm.

Strathmore head to Impala for the third time this year. The last two have yielded 18-20 and 10-23 defeats respectively.

The varsity side, joint bottom on the log after two straight defeats, will however draw inspiration from their performance against the Sarries in the Floodies semis last month. A win against the third-placed Sarries will be their first since 5th December, 2014. They have suffered six straight losses ever since.

Impala will come into this high on confidence after their bonus-point win over Topfry Nakuru. History and form will tip this clash in their favour, and the Frank Ndong-coached side will also have the advantage of the home crowd.

Players like Alex Maina, Lucas Opal, Gedion Makumi, Philemon Olang and Gabriel Odero will have to front up if Leos are to avoid a third defeat of the season.

Blak Blad vs Mean Machine- KU, 4pm

Blad are rooted to the foot of the log and must find a way of navigating their way out of the red zone lest they lose their seat at the high table of Kenyan rugby. 

A win over Mean Machine would be a good starting point. It won't be easy,however, as Machine come into this clash off the back of a win over Strathmore Leos and the fact that the last time the two meet on February 2016, Machine carried the day.

Blak Blad will be without Brian Wahinya who is in Dubai with Kenya Sevens but still do have players capable of seeing them past Machine.They include Given Onyango, Ian Obukwa, Klain Ongaki and Archidius Kwesa.

Machine, on the other hand, will depend on Marvin Karungii, shadon Munoko, Samuel Mejja, Alfred Orege and co.

Dennis Gatuha
Once aspired to be a rugby player. Now writes about rugby players.
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