Catholic Monks head coach John Isalambo says failure to match Kabras RFC experience in set pieces was a major undoing in their 40-13 defeat to the defending champions, in their Kenya Cup opening fixture played on Saturday 26 at Kakamega.
The tactician who led Monks to their Kenya Cup return after an eight-year absence said his side was caught lacking in both scrum downs and lineouts, an area where Kabras dominated throughout the game.
“It was tough as we expected being that Kabras are the current Kenya Cup champions and they gave us a good fight. The main area that they caught us lacking was set piece, specifically scrum down,” he told the Scrummage Africa.
Although it was the students who opened the scoring in the game through Sammy Omollo’s penalty, Kabras bounced back to score 33 unanswered points in the first half. The second half of the game saw Monks come back a rejuvenated side when they conceded only a try but scored 10 more points to their tally.
Isalambo admitted it was his first-half talk to the boys on playing in the opponent’s territory as well as not conceding too many penalties that changed their game in the closing half.
He further added that his side’s improved ball possession both in and out of contacts also played an important role in their improved second-half performance.
“In the first half they really had us and that’s why they were able to get more points. But in the second half, we were able to get a formula by moving the ball faster. We looked better in the second half,” he said
“It was important to maintain the ball. Ball possession was key for us and territory. In the first half, we played a lot in our half while in the second half we forced them back into their half. That’s an area where I insisted they should improve at halftime and the boys did good,” he added.
Monks will be seeking to bounce back from their defeat this weekend when they face Blak Blad who won against Nakuru RFC over the weekend, at Kenyatta University grounds.
They currently sit 10th at the table above Kenya Harlequins and Mean Machine who complete the table at 11th and 12th respectively.