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Kabras can’t deal with bankers in battle-of-the-pros; send-offs and TV black-out blot in Final

Kabras Sugar 15-23 Kenya Commercial Bank

KENYA Commercial Bank won the Kenya Cup rugby title, the third in a row — and seventh overall — after beating Kabras Sugar 15-23 in the knock-out stage final on Saturday at a packed Showground, Kakamega County on Saturday.

It was a thrilling match between the only Kenyan top league teams that are virtually semi-professional but which also produced a huge low point of the season; was not televised and clearly affected by ‘sin-bin’ send-offs.

Top: Kenya U20 rugby vice-captain Samuel Asati (left) of Kenya Commercial Bank times to tackle national teammate Barry Robinson of Kabras Sugar at the Showground, Kakamega during the Kenya Cup final on Saturday. Abve: The two teams before the kick-off

Top: Kenya U20 rugby vice-captain Samuel Asati (left) of Kenya Commercial Bank times  a tackle on Kabras Kabras Sugar at the Showground, Kakamega during the Kenya Cup final on Saturday. Above: The two teams before the kick-off

Staging the match in faraway west country (359km west of Kenya capital Nairobi) sounded a big plus in the spreading of top quality matches out into the counties but television rights holders announcement that they could not broadcast the match was clear backwardness in the commercial sports era. The Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) TV partners are BambaSports of Radio Africa.

The teams took the field with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) possessing a big weight advantage, their front eight packing 855 kilogrammes against 838kg of Kabras. The last time the two met in Kakamega was in 2016, the game ending in a 15-15 draw.

Kenya U20s vice-captain Samuel Asati (left) of KCB had his tackle just well executed, also below

Kenya U20s vice-captain Samuel Asati (right) of KCB had his tackle just well executed, also below

The bankers would start on a wrong footing, their outside centre Peter Kilonzo being suspended for 10 minutes when the teams were at 0-0. Luckily for KCB, they would avoid being affected. First, Kenya Sevens once-in-a-while stand-in captain, winger Jacob Ojee, using his pace to split the Kabras defence and touch down. He booted over the conversion for KCB to lead 7-0.

Then Kabras, who had taken over the scoring and at 15-7 in the second half, were distabilised by the 10-minute ‘sin bin’ send-off of Kevin Onyango,  the winger who made his name at Nairobi’s Kenya Harlequins before switching allegiance to west of the country.

Uganda's star Philip Wokorach kicks for Kabras Sugar

Uganda’s star Philip Wokorach kicks for Kabras Sugar

Kabras had settled down well after escaping two KCB penalty kick attempts and going 0-7 down. The home team would pin down KCB, their (kabras) stand-off half and mercurial Uganda international Philip Wokorach missing a penalty opportunity before Kenya 7s forward Dan Sikuta broke the deadlock, the No. 8 plunging down for his side’s opening try for 5-7. Wokorach failed with the conversion kick and that was the score at half time.

Kabras opened the second half with a roar, lock Charlton Mokua slicing through the bankers’ defense to go over the whitewash. Wokorach added the two points for a Kabras 12 – 7 lead. Then the Ugandan ace booted over a penalty stretching it to 15-7 before Onyango was sent to the ‘cooler’.

Kenya front rower Curtis Lilako lifts his third in-a-row Kenya Cup trophy as skipper of Kenya Commercial Bank

Kenya front-rower Curtis Lilako lifts his third-in-a-row Kenya Cup trophy as skipper of Kenya Commercial Bank

This favoured KCB, the man-advantage allowing, first, to force a penalty for Ojee to slot over — for KCB 10-15 Kabras — and for him to convert another penalty for the bankers, reducing Kabras’ lead to 15-13.

Then the turn-around came for the bankers, Shaban Ahmed diving over to take the visitors to 18-15 and for Ojee to add the two point for Kabras 15 — 20 KCB. Kabras were stunned, energy supped and panic showed; the picture on their faces being of that they would again be unable to get over their ‘jinx’ team. Kabras had finished on top of the table in the regular season play before the play-off but it counted for nothing against the bankers; about the only team the sugar millers feared.

The victorious captain, Curtis Lilako, walks tall

The victorious captain, Curtis Lilako, walks tall

And when it was done and dusted, there was nothing personal

And when it was done and dusted, there was nothing personal

Indeed, KCB would exert their grit, muscling Kabras into submission and it was Ojee who would complete a hat-trick of successful penalties, booting over another for a 23-15 final score.

It was the third time KCB were winning over Kabras in a Kenya Cup final; adding to the 29-24 win in 2018 and 36-8 in 2017 — both matches hosted by KCB. It was their fourth win over Kabras at the same stage having won the 2015 final 27-3 at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA) Ngong Road ground in Nairobi.

This year, Kabras’ only defeat in the regular league was against KCB at Impala Club, Nairobi when they went down 20-44. The only KCB defeat in the regular season was against Nairobi’s Nondescripts on match day two of the league.

From BambaSport, the only thing showing 'live' was the scoreboard

From BambaSport, the only thing showing ‘live’ was the scoreboard

TEAMS:

Kabras Sugar – 15 Jone Kubo; 14 Felix Ayange, 13. Mario Wilson, 12 Nick Baraza, 11 Kevin K Onyango; 10 Philip Wokorach, 9 Barry Robinson; 1 Ephraim Oduor, 2 Max Adaka (C), 3 Asuman Mugerwa; 4 Charlton Mokua, 5 Hillary Odhiambo; 6 Dan Sikuta, 7 George Nyambua, 8. Claude Johannes

Reserves – 16 Geoffrey Shitambasi, 17 Hillary Mwajilwa, 18 Joseph Odero, 19 Brian Juma, 20 Kevin Kabole, 21 Dan Angwech, 22 Johnstone Mung’au, 23 Paul Abuto

Coach: Henley Du Plessis (South Africa)

Kenya Commercial Bank – 15 Isaac Njoroge; 14 Tony Onyango, 13 Peter Kilonzo, 12. Brian Omondi, 11 Jacob Ojee; 10 Kennedy Moseti, 9 Samuel Asati; 1 Oscar Sorano, 2 Peter Karia 3. Curtis Lilako ©;  4 Oliver Mang’eni, 5 Francis Mwita; 6 Andrew Amonde, 7 Peter Waitere, 8 Davis Chenge

Reserves – 16 Griffin Musila, 17 Moses Amusala, 18 George Gichure 19 Brian Nyikuli, 20 Rocky Aguko, 21 Michael Wanjala, 22 Shaban Ahmed, 23 Vincent Onyala

Coach: Curtis Olago (Kenya)

Match officials:

Assistant referees: Constant Cap

Asst ref: Godwin Karuga

Center referee: Moses Ndung’u

Last 5 Kenya Cup Final results
2019 Kabras 15-23 KCB
2018 KCB 29-24 Kabras
2017 KCB 36-8 Kabras
2016 Impala 5-22 Kabras Sugar
2015 KCB 27-3 Kabras

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and KRU

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