Blak Blad, Machine and Strathmore in battle for Kenya Cup survival

By Clement Wekulo: Wednesday, March 27th 2019 at 02:00 GMT +3 | Rugby

 

 

Mean Machine's James Kang'ethe of UON is tackled by Ryan Onyango of Kenyatta University during the rugby varsity league final match at UoN Grounds on Saturday, October 27, 2018 [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The fight for survival in the 2018-19 Kenya Cup is set to go down to the wire with university sides Blak Blad, Strathmore Leos and Mean Machine battling to uphold their top-flight status.

With only two matches remaining, Machine is in a precarious situation as they occupy the last position with 11 points. A loss against Impala Saracens this weekend could see the University of Nairobi side make an immediate return to the second tier, the KRU Championship.

The Ramsfield Matekwa-coached side have their work clearly cut out as they must register wins in their remaining fixtures and hope that results from elsewhere favour them.

“ There is no room for errors and everyone in the team knows how important the remaining fixtures are. Nothing is impossible and we know with necessary determination we shall be in the Kenya Cup next season,” Machine captain Shadon Munoko said.

Of the three relegation candidates,  Machine has the worst point difference having soaked in 411 points and scored 179.

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Strathmore Leos coach John Mbai is also optimistic that his side will remain afloat, despite an away tie at league leaders Kabras Sugar being among their remaining fixtures.

They will, however, fancy their chances when they host fellow strugglers Blak Blad on the final match day. With Strathmore and Blak Blad separated by two points, the fixture will potentially decide which team gets relegated.

“We just want to get as many points as we can and hope that we can be fortunate. We will do what is within our control as we wish for the best outcome,” Mbai said.

“Our game against Blak Blad will be very crucial. Everybody has an equal chance to survive the chop and we will have to focus squarely on ourselves and not the other teams,” added Mbai.

Mbai’s men have flirted with relegation for the better part of the season, their only wins coming against Machine and Homeboyz.

A win for Kenyatta University’s Blak Blad this weekend, coupled with losses for Strathmore and Machine will see them survive.

Meanwhile, the race for Kenya Cup promotion has gathered momentum in the KRU Championship with former Kenya Cup sides Catholic Monks and Western Bulls leading the way after 14 rounds. Monks top the standings with 53 points, three more than second-placed Bulls. 

Elsewhere, influential number eight Duane Vermeulen has been cleared to play for the Bulls in their South African Super Rugby derby against the Sharks on Saturday, news which will also please Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus.

Vermeulen limped off during the first half of last weekend’s humiliating 56-20 home defeat to the Waikato Chiefs, and there had been fears he could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

Bulls team doctor Herman Rossouw confirmed yesterday Vermeulen would be available to play against the Sharks.

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