Mwamba women remain stoic in title defence

Mwamba Rugby Club women side celebrate after defending the Kenya Cup league against Impala Roans on March 11. [Courtesy, Lenseye photography]

Like a premonition, the writing was on the wall that Mwamba Rugby women will trounce Impala and win the second women's Kenya Cup league.

As the players were lining up, a longtime Mwamba club supporter Maureen Magoya was flying the club's flag in front of the team captain Stacie Otieno. Impala tried to pull a similar stunt but not only was their flag smaller it was not flying high even with the heavy winds blowing on the Ngong Road grounds.

The teams got off to a quick start with Mwamba bagging three points from a Diana Omoso penalty kick. However, that was all Mwamba could manage in the first half as Impala exploded with Diana Kemunto scoring a superb solo try and Michelle Akinyi also grounding the ball for Impala to extend their lead.

With the score at 17-3 at the breather, Mwamba coach had his work cut out. It helped assuage Mwamba fans when Kenya international Ronnie Omondi quipped "Wacha tension na ni first half," Don't tense up it's just the first half."

The halftime talk did the trick and straight from the Kick off, the eventual most valuable player Ann Namunyak, 16, was running rings around the Impala defence causing all manner of problems. And her persistence paid off after the team scored a try and a penalty for a 20-11 score.

There was a moment of scare for Kulabu after Impala booted the ball to an open space behind Mwamba's defenders but the lanky second-row Faith Livoi managed to beat Impala wingers to it.

In spite of Impala's Prisca Nyerere threatening all afternoon, it was the superior Mwamba forwards who scored a penalty try through a bullish scrum to ice the cake for the black shirts with the match ending 21-20. Shouts of Kulabu hoyee and Mwamba inabamba rent the air after the final whistle.

For a team that neither has a sponsor nor a playing ground, the result was ecstatic for the management and players, with the club secretary Gilbert Nyangor saying: "It has been a tough season. A really tough one considering we do not have a sponsor and depend on goodwill from the players and fans. Defending the cup is probably the sweetest victory for the club in a pretty long time," said Nyangor.

"We hope to build on the structures and prepare better for the next season. With regards to a playing ground we have reached out to several people including the county government and we hope pretty soon we will have positive feedback."

The team captain Stacie Otieno said the motivation was not to fall into the first-half pressure and ensure the players enjoy the match.

"We had worked on our weaknesses, especially the lineouts and scrums. So, zero pressure. We take one minute at a time," she said.

The team manager Joyce Odhiambo also had a glowing tribute to the team that won the inaugural cup last year.

"The future is bright for our club and women's rugby as a whole. We are currently working on recruiting new players and strengthening our team given the number of teams rising means more competition for us in the coming seasons which is a good thing."

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