Cheetahs sprint past Lions for third spot
RUGBY By By BS Mulavi | June 3rd 2012
By BS Mulavi
Cheetahs sunk deep their claws in Lions back and managed to get away with a crucial victory to seal third place as the curtains came down on the Bamburi Rugby Super Series tournament at the RFUEA grounds.
“As a man you cannot let others take you for granted,” said Cheetahs captain Duncan Ekasi.
After their loss in the group stage to the lions, Ekasi felt their opponents rested on their laurels and took the playoff as a formality. But the Cheetahs fought gallantly to beat the Lions 22-18 in an entertaining duel that also served as a curtain raiser to the main finals of the tournament between the Rhinos and Rwenzori.
Cheetahs, remembered vividly the wounds inflicted on them by the stray Lions two weeks ago. They were not ready to see their opponents get another victory over them in such a small period of time.
“We knew that if we let them beat us again, we would have failed ourselves,” said Ekasi. “At halftime we had a pep talk and we agreed there was no way we would let this game slip through our fingers.
“We were from two consecutive losses and we knew if we let it get to three, our rivals would have no respect for us ever. So despite not being able to be in the final the victory and revenge against Lions felt good and that is why we went to the extent of doing a lap of honour to our fans who have stayed behind us all the time.”
The Cheetahs were the first Kenyan team to ever lose a semi final to a Ugandan opponent in Kampala and Ekasi wanted a fresh start.
“We were down against the Lions and I knew we had to single out their ball carriers and take care of them immediately. Once we took care of the ball carriers it was easy for us to get our rhythm back,” he explained. We decided we need to play the ball closer to our forwards and when our pack was carrying the ball they simply could not handle the pressure.”
Ekasi went on to praise the team effort from his colleagues but reserved special praise for Man of the Match Ronnie Mwenesi.
“I do not know what got into Ronnie today, but he played his heart out and rightfully deserved to get the Man of the Match award.”
Cheetahs walk away with Sh120,000 cheque while the Lions take home Sh85,000 for finishing in the fourth spot. Ronnie Mwenesi took home Sh5,000 for his superb display.
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