A few weeks ago when we reported that the 2008 Kenya Cup was Impala's to lose, little did we know these words would turn out to be prophetic. All the Gazelles had to do was travel to the Lions Den in Ruaraka and register a win in their final league fixture against home side and defending league champions KCB Lions. This would have given them a first league title since 2004. However, there was two major hiccups, Impala had not won at the Lions Den since registering a 19-12 win in July 2003. They had also failed to score a try in their last visit to the Den when they lost 39-6 in May 2007.
They seemed to have started this fixture well. Former Kenya scrum half Moses Kola slotting home a 3rd minute penalty that gave Impala a 3-0 lead. Peter Mutai levelled in the 5th minute after an Impala infringement. Scores 3-3.
KCB's forwards launched a 7th minute attack that saw flanker Anthony Ochino held up by the Impala defence. Former Impala man Curtis Olago barged over the line a minute later to give KCB an 8-3 lead. Mutai missed the conversion.
Kola missed a 10th minute penalty while Mutai slotted home two quick penalties in the 20th and 24th minutes that extended KCB's lead to 14-3. In the 30th minute minute, Kenya lock,Anthony Ogot scored the first of his two tries off a 15 yard maul.Mutai was sure with his conversion as the Lions led 21-3. Kola kicked over two penalties to reduce the deficit to 21-9.In the 34th minute, Ochino intercepted a wayward Impala pass, offloading the ball to Ogot. Mutai missed the conversion as KCB led 26-9. The Lions would finish the half with 14 men after Mutai was yellow carded for punching in the 38th minute. Half score KCB 26 Impala 9.
The second half saw Impala fail take make use of their extra man and when Mutai came back on after doing time in the sin, he scored and converted a try in the 50th minute. KCB 33 Impala 9. Kenya prop Derrick Wamalwa powered his way to the try line in the 62nd minute, Mutai was successful with the conversion. Scores KCB 40 Impala 9. When Mutai put over a penalty in the 70th minute, the match was effectively over as a contest. Impala got furstrated and ended the match with 14 men after Kenya winger Dan Weku was yellowed carded deep in injury time for throwing a punch.
Final score KCB 43 Impala 9.
The Lions were ruthless in attack and resolute in defence, denying Impala the opportunity to score a try for a second successive year. Anthony Ogot was no doubt man of the match, scoring two tries and frustrating Impala with his pin point line kicks.
This was ample revenge for the 20 -32 defeat suffered in the first leg on June 7. The result ended Impala's hopes of winning the 2008 Kenya Cup. KCB on the other hand must defeat Kenya Harlequin in their final fixture on Saturday 30th August 2008 at the RFUEA Stadium.
A win for Impala would have seen them lift the title with 65 points while a draw would have seen them clinch it with 63 points. After the surprisingly poor show, they remain top with 61 points after playing all their matches and are now hoping to finish second in the league.
KCB have 60 points after beating Impala with a bonus point for four tries during the game and only need a draw against Quins next weekend to clinch the coveted title for the fourth year in a row.
Quins, who beat Nondies 48-23 at the RFUEA have 57 points and are also in contention for the title.
Fate is now on their hands as they face their sole rivals for the title in their final match and they need nothing less than a straight win against the bankers.
"We expect a very tough game next week when we play Quins in the league decider at their home ground, but we have weathered through more difficult times and I don’t think we will tumble in our most important match of the season," said coach Bill Githinji who took over from Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno.
Githinji, himself a former Impala player and coach, praised Impala for their impressive title campaign this season.
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