An potentially explosive battle is in the offing when two-time Kenya Cup champions Nakuru tackle Menengai Oilers in Kenya Cup's Great Rift derby Saturday.
Both teams posted contrasting results last Saturday where Nakuru hit Mwamba 18-13 at Railway, Nairobi to signal their return but Oilers lost 37-29 in Impala Saracens at the Impala Sports Club.
Despite the defeat Gibson Weru’s Menengai Oilers still got a bonus point from the match to stay fifth in the Kenya Cup standings with 30 points drawn from six wins and five losses.
Nakuru, who are just a point behind Oilers also with six wins and five losses, will be out to win at their Nakuru Athletics Club backyard so as to avenge the first leg’s 31-5 defeat away to Oilers at the Moi Showground. Both teams are within the semi-finals play-off zone.
Nakuru coach Felix Oloo declared after the victory over Mwamba that they have now solved some “domestic issues” that were threatening the well-being of the club. “We have cleared some bottlenecks that hindered some good show from us,” said Oloo, adding that Nakuru will definitely be in the play-offs.
Weru said they are looking forward to a better display than when they met in the first leg adding that they have worked on several aspects of play.
“We have refined our defence to ensure we don’t concede cheap tries or penalties besides ensuring consistency in our phase play,” said Weru adding that they have also worked on their mental aspect since playing away comes with pressure hence not easy.
Weru warned his charges not to ride of their first leg’s exploits noting that a lot has changed since then. “Most of Nakuru’s senior players are back and only we needs to do is stay composed and avoid distractions.”
Nakuru and Oilers clash is one of the Kenya Cup matches this weekend as the competition enters the third and critical phase as teams revert to their respective pools following the end of match day 11.
Last weekend witnessed the last round of six matches where teams from the opposing pools battled in a one-off match, which was the second phase.
Nakuru and Oilers are in Pool “A” that has champions KCB, Western Bulls, Kenya Harlequin and Homeboyz. Kabras Sugar, Nondies, Impala, Blak Blad, Mwamba and Kisumu are in Pool “B”.
The top two teams after the end of the third phase proceed to the semi-finals direct with the next four engaging in a playoff for a place in the semis.
Some interesting battles are also in the offing when hosts Quins eye revenge against Homeboyz at the RFUEA ground with Impala Saracens taking on Nondescripts at the Impala Sports Club. Homeboyz and Impala won the first leg encounters 26-13 and 26-14 respectively.
Leaders Kabras Sugar, who dismantled Kisumu 89-0 in Kakamega, hope for a similar show in Kisumu in the return leg as champions KCB are away to Western Bulls at the Bullring, Kakamega. KCB won 48-11 in the first leg.
FIXTURES (All matches kick off at 4pm)
Kenya Harlequin v Homeboyz (RFUEA), Nakuru v Menengai Oilers (Nakuru Athletics Club), Western Bulls v KCB (Bullring, Kakamega), Mwamba v Blak Blad (Railway), Impala v Nondescripts (Impala Sports Cub), Kisumu v Kabras Sugar (Kisumu Polytechnic)