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Crunch time as Kenya Cup & Championship playoff races heat up

Crunch time for Oilers, Mwamba and Nakuru in Kenya Cup playoff race.

It is crunch time for Menengai Oilers, Stanbic Mwamba and Top Fry Nakuru in their quest to secure the two remaining Kenya Cup slots.

Oilers are in their second season in the top tier league and have lived to their dark horse tag given to them by pundits at the start of the season. They have certainly impressed and looked like playoff contenders. They are two points clear of sixth placed Stanbic Mwamba and three ahead of cross town rivals Top Fry Nakuru. With matches against KCB and Kenya Harlequin coming up in quick succession, we should expect a spirited from the Oilers.

Stanbic Mwamba lie sixth on the log, occupying the final playoff slot. They play their remaining fixtures against Resolution Impala Saracens and Nondescripts.

Top Fry Nakuru are just one point and one position outside the playoff berths. They play Kenya Harlequin and Western Bulls on consecutive weekends. The two time champions will certainly not give up the playoff fight easily.

There will be heartbreak for one among this trio. The next fortnight should make for interesting viewing.

Heading into match day 15, there is another set of potentially exciting fixtures -especially if the past few match days are anything to go by.

Red hot Blak Blad have scorched their opponents in recent weeks to climb to eighth and virtually secure their Kenya Cup status for next season. They play away to bottom of the table Kisumu at the Mamboleo Showground. Blad were 31-3 winners in the first leg encounter.

Kenya Harlequin registered an important win on the road, defeating Western Bulls last weekend to allay fears of relegation that have lingered over the side. They host Top Fry Nakuru at the RFUEA Ground, seeking to exorcise the first leg memories that saw them squander an 18-3 lead, eventually going down 25-18. A win for Quins will certainly complicate Nakuru's playoff chances.

Third placed Homeboyz make the trip to Kakamega to take on second from bottom Western Bulls whom they defeated 36-17 during the first leg. This is one of two fixtures in the Western Kenya town, the other one pitting leaders Kabras Sugar against tenth placed Nondescripts. Kabras were 40-15 first leg winners.

Stanbic Mwamba are in the sixth and final playoff slot. Their first leg encounter against fourth placed Resolution Impala Saracens ended in a 26-24 loss and Saturday's return fixture at the Railway Club is both an opportunity to avenge this loss and keep Kulabu's playoff qualification hopes alive.

Defending champions KCB were made to fight for the 43-13 first leg win away to Menengai Oilers whom they host at the KCB Sports Club. The second placed bankers will be wary of the threat posed by the playoff chasing Oilers who sit fifth on the log and this should make for an entertaining fixture.

Almighty battle to secure Championship playoff slots.

While Strathmore Leos, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, and Mean Machine have done enough to secure Championship playoff qualification, there still is an almighty battle to secure the remaining three slots with two rounds of the regular season still to play.

Any one of these six teams - USIU Martials, Egerton Wasps, South Coast Pirates, Northern Suburbs, UoE Trojans and Catholic Monks could still sneak into the post season but this is purely dependent on the outcomes of their remaining fixtures.

Simply put, two bonus point wins is all they need....while obviously counting on their opponents to slip up. That is the ideal situation, but certainly won't be the actual situation on match day 14 and 15.

Either way, it still is a tight race.

Fast forward to match day 15 fixtures and Strathmore Leos will be out to extend their perfect run this season when they host relegation threatened Mombasa at The Cage in Madaraka. The Leos have been flawless all season in their quest to return to the top tier Kenya Cup, boasting 14 wins from 14 outings and as mentioned earlier in this text, have already secured home semifinal qualification. They warmed up for this clash with a 33-15 win away to the Catholic Monks while Mombasa fell 29-13 to South Coast Pirates in an entertaining Pwani Derby fixture last weekend at the Mombasa Sports Club.

Second placed MMUST are at home to already relegated Kisii. MMUST were made to work for last weekend's 5-0 win away to Eldoret as Kisii were beaten at home, going down 16-3 to playoff chasing USIU Martials.

Two teams with playoff ambitions duel at the Catholic University ground. These are seventh placed Northern Suburbs and sixth placed South Coast Pirates. The two sides registered confidence boosting wins on match day 14, Suburbs stunning pre-match favorites Mean Machine 18-10 as Pirates won their derby clash against Mombasa.

Playoff qualification may have already been secured for Mean Machine but they will be out to bounce back from last weekend's shock result to Suburbs when they host Catholic Monks who will be out to secure a positive result that could keep their playoff and survival hopes alive.

The USIU Martials are at home to the UoE Trojans with Eldoret hosting Egerton Wasps.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Kenya Rugby Union (KRU).

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