Flawless Kabras to unleash new style of play against Quins

Friday February 8 2019

Kabras Sugar coach Henley Du Plessis (in white) with his players (from right to left) Hillary Odhiambo, Barry Robinson, Brian Tanga (with the ball), Kevin Keegan and Brian Juma Tonya at Mash Park hotel, Nairobi on February 8, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kabras Sugar coach Henley Du Plessis (in white) with his players (from right to left) Hillary Odhiambo, Barry Robinson, Brian Tanga (with the ball), Kevin Keegan and Brian Juma Tonya at Mash Park hotel, Nairobi on February 8, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Kenya Harlequin Saturday host leaders Kabras Sugar at the RFUEA grounds in one of the most anticipated Kenya Cup rugby league match this season.

Quins coach Charles Cardovillis and his Kabras Sugar counterpart Henley Du Plessis have opted to pair players in their favourite positions in a match that has drawn anxiety and excitement both in main stream and social media alike.

But will Cardovillis - who comes up against the side he handled last season - hand Du Plessis - who has had an impressive run - his first defeat this season?

That is the big question with both teams almost at full strength, enjoying the services of Kenya Simbas players who didn’t take part in the first phase of Kenya Cup.

Also up for selection are Kenya Sevens players, who ordinarily would have been resting after the Sydney Sevens.

One would argue their availability is a good headache for both coaches, who are spoilt for choice but also under pressure to identify the best combinations that will deliver victory.

Du Plessis warned Quins that their tactical approach will be different from their eight previous matches.

“We shall apply both the direct and open play rugby and strike their weak points more,” said Du Plessis. “I know I'm under pressure since Kabras has reached the last four Cup finals but only won one.”

Du Plessis noted that Cardovillis enjoys the slight advanatage of knowing most of Kabras players, having handled the side last year. “Let him prepare for something different,” said the South African.

“I am glad my wingers are back and we should have some good combinations that will hurt Kabras where it matters most,” said Cardovillis.

Kabras Sugar, the 2015/2016 Kenya Cup champions, have won all their last eight matches with bonus points to top the league with 40 points.

Some of Kabras Sugar’s victims in matches where they have scored seven tries include Mwamba (46-15), Nondies (41-5) and Impala Saracens (41-0).

On the other hand, Quins, who are placed third in the league with 31 points, have six wins and two losses. Quins went down to Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) 22-13 and Menengai Oilers 14-8.

Perhaps the only key player missing from Du Plessis’ line up is Kenya Simbas left wing Felix Ayange, who is yet to recover from an injury. Ayange has been replaced with equally sharp Kevin Keegan with Fabian Olando moving to the bench.

Hooker skipper Max Adaka will marshal his strong pack that has Kenya Sevens flanker Dan Sikuta and Kenya Simbas' George Nyambua, who will have a strong extra cover in Kevin Kabole on the bench.

Kabras Sugar’s forward line can’t be complete without mentioning the enterprising eighthman Claude Johannes from, South Africa.

Johannes is one of the three South Africans - alongside fly half Logan Basson and outside centre Mario Wilson - who have been a joy to watch with their skilful display in defence and attack besides their try-scoring prowess.

Another player Quins should be wary of is Ugandan fullback international Philip Wokorach, who has been scoring virtually in every match.

Quins boast of a strong backline with the likes of Kenya Sevens star William Ambaka at left and David Ambunya at right wing that will be out to stop Wilson, Basson and Wokorach in their tracks.

Starting line-ups

Kabras Sugar

1. Hoses Ngesa, 2. Max Adaka, 3. Asuman Mugerwa, 4. Brian Juma, 5. Hillary Odhiambo, 6. Dan Sikuta, 7. George Nyambua, 8. Claude Johannes, 9. Brian Tanga, 10. Logan Basson, 11. Kevin Keegan, 12. Nick Barasa, 13. Mario Wilson, 14. Paul Abuto, 15. Phillip Wokorach

Substitutes: 16. George Shitambasi, 17. Ephraim Oduor, 18. Joseph Osero, 19. Charlton Mokua, 20. Kevin Kabole, 21. Barry Robinson, 22. Fabian Olando, 23. Jacob Okumba

Kenya Harlequin

1. Brian Obwaya, 2. Frank Khalwale, 3. Paul Kioko, 4. Hilary Baraza, 5. Tony Mutai, 6. Patrice Agunda, 7. Herman Humwa, 8. Peter Misango, 9. Dominic Osino, 10. Eden Agero, 11. Willy Ambaka, 12. Frank Wanyama, 13. David Ambunya, 14. Iddi Kakai, 15. Lyle Asiligwa

Substitutes: 16. Edward Oseko, 17. Elisha Koronya, 18. Melvin Thairu, 19. Roxy Dan Suchi, 20. George Scott, 21. Aaron Ofoywroth, 22. Jaspher Ochen, 23. Aluda Bed


Kenya Harlequin v Kabras Sugar (4pm) - RFUEA

Mwamba v Blak Blad (2pm) RFUEA

Menengai Oilers v Impala Saracens (4pm) Nakuru Showground

Strathmore Leos v KCB (4pm) Madaraka

Mean Machine v Menengai Cream Homeboyz (4pm) University of Nairobi

Nakuru v Nondescripts (4pm) Nakuru Athletic Club