Strathmore University and Mwamba RFC were the main casualties as the 2015/16 Kenya Cup regular season came to a close on Saturday.
The duo will miss playoffs after clinging on to hope going to the final day but luck was not on their side. Strathmore put up a good show but fell short with a 27-33 loss to Impala RFC while Mwamba drew 12-12 with Nondescripts RUFC.
Defending champions Kenya Commercial Bank, Nakuru RFC, Homeboyz RFC and Kabras Sugar all sealed their places in the knockouts and join already-qualified Kenya Harlequin FC and Impala who will enjoy a bye from the quarterfinals.
Nakuru will play Kabras while KCB tackle Homeboyz in next weekend’s quarterfinal round. Homeboyz qualified with a 27-25 comeback win over Quins, Nakuru beat KCB 21-13 with Kabras demolishing Thika RFC 82-8.
At Impala Club, it was a tough contest with high stakes for both teams. Strathmore had to get a bonus point win while Impala had to win and finish ahead of Quins who had already lost by the time this match kicked off.
It was Impala who achieved their target and they finish top with 80 points, three ahead of Quins. Strathmore started strongly with a first minute try from Churchill Ooko getting Impala off-guard and unsettled The students had won a scrum inside Impala’s half and Tony Onyango made a line break on the right-wing but was tackled before crossing the line.
Ooko was at the right place to pick up the ball from the breakdown and score with Ian Lumwaji converting for 7-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Israel Soi touched down for Impala as Strathmore led 7-5. It was captain Duncan Ekasi who went for contact after gaining possession and it worked for Impala. Nato Simiyu picked the ball from an ensuing ruck and kicked deep with Soi gathering to score.
Mohamed Omollo kicked a penalty in the 14th minute to hand Impala a 8-7 lead but Lumwaji swung the lead back to Strathmore 10-8 with a penalty in the 16th minute.
Kickers stole the show
Again, kickers stole the show as Omollo kicked a second penalty for Impala in the 18th minute for 11-10. In what was shaping out as a double-edged contest, Tony Owuor gave Strathmore a 17-11 lead in the 22nd minute with a try converted by Lumwaji.
After some good interplay, Cyprian Kuto broke on the left-wing and Owuor was at hand to get the offload and score. Ooko was sent to the sin bin in the 33rd minute while captain Eric Kioko limped off injured early into the match.
Impala capitalized heavily with Soi completing his brace after noticing an open line in Strathmore defense to sneak through and touch down. Omollo converted as they led 18-17 at halftime.
Strathmore was superior at the lineout in first half. A penalty try in the 45th minute awarded to Impala appeared to have killed off the resilience displayed by Strathmore in the opening half. Impala won a scrum inside Strathmore’s half and Simiyu possessed the ball. His trademark kick troubled Tony Onyango who rose high to gather as he fumbled.
Lameck Dunde then kicked from the ground and chased but Kuto was on toe as he pushed the ball out before Dunde could score. After consultation with the touch judge, match referee awarded a penalty try converted by Omollo to give the gazelles a 25-17 lead.
Innocent Simiyu was then sent to the sin bin but it did not affect Impala much. Samson Onsomu added another try with his first touch after coming on for Omollo for 30-17.
Scored from a turn over
At the hour mark, Strathmore scored through Victor Odera after turning over an Impala scrum in their own 22. The students touched down again in the 70th minute from a rolling maul set up from a lineout as their pressure started to yield fruit.
Trailing 27-30, Strathmore needed to score an unconverted try to win the match but Kevin Ochami kicked a penalty for Impala in the 72nd minute. That made it a six-point game and Strathmore had to score a converted try to win but the loss brought their season to an early end.
In other matches, Mean Machine benefited from a 24-0 walkover win over Bungoma Sharks who never showed up while Blak Blad beat Western Bulls 7-5 in Kakamega.
Results: Homeboyz 27 Kenya Harlequin 25, Impala RFC 33 Strathmore University 27, Nondies 12 Mwamba RFC 12, Kabras Sugar 82 Thika RFC 8, Nakuru RFC 21 KCB 13, Mean Machine 24 Bungoma Sharks 0, Western Bulls 5 Blak Blad 7.
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