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Cheetahs put one foot in Super Series final

Rugby
 Cheetahs and Lions players in action during their Rugby Super Series match at Nakuru Athletics on Saturday. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

A second victory by Cheetahs over fancied Lions in the ongoing Rugby Super Series have boosted their chances of playing in the finals on May 25.

The hard fought 18-16 win by Cheetahs against Lions at Nakuru Athletic Club on Saturday puts them (Cheetahs) ahead of the pack as the only team that is yet to taste a defeat in the round-robin tournament so far.

The Cheetahs are on top of the table standings with six points from two matches.

And after their second win on Saturday, Cheetahs head coach Lawrence Buyachi said they already have one leg in the final ahead of this weekend’s fixtures in Kakamega.

“We have a leg in the finals and we only need to work on our next match,” he said.

In their first match, Cheetahs beat Rhinos 18-5. They will face rejuvenated Buffaloes in Kakamega on Saturday.

The first loss by Lions in the hands of Cheetahs has complicated their ambition to play in the finals after Buffaloes also secured their first victory by dismissing Rhinos 27-21.

After their 29-7 defeat to Lions, Buffaloes head coach Max Adaka had said that the fight to the finals was still wide open as all teams were tough and the event competitive.

By beating Rhinos 27-21, Adaka’s men still have a chance to realize their dreams of playing in the finals if they defeat Cheetahs in Kakamega.

"It’s good we have won vital points as we are determined to reach the finals. However, I’m happy to have played on a stable pitch not like the first match when it was affected by the rains," said Adaka.

Just like Adaka, Lions coach Oliver Mang’eni does not favour wet conditions.

"Playing under swampy conditions is not good and easy for us as I prefer dry conditions," Mang'eni had earlier said.

In their loss against Cheetahs which was played on a slippery pitch owing to heavy rains, he said: “Yes, we lost but we equally gave good them (Cheetahs) a run for their money.”

The Cheetahs have a match in hand against Rhinos, and Buyachi said they were equally ready to play in whatever conditions.

"We had trained in wet and dry conditions a number of times. We could have even beaten the Lions under dry conditions," he said.

Against Lions, he said his boys showed character and are ready to hammer their next opponents.

"We a taking a match at a time and that's our tradition that has brought this far and ready for the Rhinos,” said Buyachi.

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