Manie Libbok shines as Stormers beat Bulls, again, to book home URC semi-final

Stormers’ Leolin Zas celebrates after scoring a try during their United Rugby Championship quarter-final against the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday

Stormers’ Leolin Zas celebrates after scoring a try during their United Rugby Championship quarter-final against the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 6, 2023


Cape Town — The Stormers are marching onto another home semi-final in the United Rugby Championship (URC) after dispatching the Bulls easily by 33-21 in their North-South derby in front of a packed DHL Stadium on Saturday.

It was an action-packed game, well from one side of the field at least, for most of the 80 minutes as the defending URC champions had no problem putting a sometimes lacklustre-looking Pretoria side to the sword with their quick play.

It's the sixth straight win for John Dobson and his Stormers over Jake White and his Loftus cattle in the URC as they again bend the knee in front of the Stormers in the playoffs. Last season the visitors lost in the final, while this year's loss is a little less heartbreaking happening way before the final hurdle.

The Stormers will face Irish side Connacht next weekend in the semi-final.

Halfbacks Manie Libbok and Herschel Jantjies kept the Bulls' forwards on the backfoot right from the start, turning them around with every possible opportunity with some pin-point kicks.

Scrumhalf Jantjies was on fire behind the breakdown and right in the first few minutes rolled a few kicks over the visitor's defence to turn their forwards. Libbok again slotted high kicks that had kept the Bulls turning back as well and his kicking off the tee was brilliant.

But it was on the attack where Jantjies and Libbok were extremely potent.

Time and again they caught the Bulls' defenders napping and sped up play to their team's advantage.

Libbok sliced a few times through gaps where it should not have been, and with the Bulls having forwards defending ahead of him, he ran at them every chance he got.

One of the gaps Libbok took, led to a brilliant counter-attack which saw flanker Hacjivah Dayimani go over for the Stormers' first try of the match. By then you could see that it was only the home side in the game and they were ready for the Bulls.

The visitors on the other hand conceded a couple of penalties up front that stiffled their attack. Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff also won the first scrum penalty for his side.

What the Stormers also brilliantly was counter the Bulls early on when they tried to launch mauls. A first-time sack by the home side's lock Marvin Orie stopped an early maul of the Pretoria side.

The Bulls did well to stop the Stormers a few times when they tried to maul, especially when flanker Deon Fourie was tackled and lost the ball over the try line.

Hooker Joseph Dweba also peeled off after a maul but was tackled over the try line brilliantly by Bulls' scrumhalf Embrose Papier to hold the ball up.

Orie had a good game and was all over the park on defence and managed the Stormers' lineout brilliantly.

A lineout steal from the Bok lock when the Bulls were on the attack sparked a try that started just outside his team's 22m line. The move was brilliantly finished by winger Leolin Zas on his return to action.

The defending champions should've had a more comfortable lead at halftime, after being ahead 17-7 at the break, but at times they were a bit hasty looking for tries and took the wrong option.

The Bulls gave a better account of themselves in the second forty as the kept pushing at the Stormes' defence trying to get a foothold in the game. But Bulls winger Kurt-Lee Arendse sort-of put up an alone fight. He was the only one that looked half dangerous when he had the ball in hand, and his aerial play was brilliant, constantly outjumping the likes of fullback Damian Willemse and the Stormers' wingers.

There were patches where they looked like bringing it back, especially after a second-half try by Papier that gave hope to the small amount of Bulls fans in the crowd.

But they could not capitalise on the score.

Stormers right-wing Angelo Davids scored the only try for his team in the second half, while Libbok contributed more off the tee via penalties to seal the game for the Stormers.

A late try, after sustained pressure on the Stormers, brought some consolation to the Bulls.


Stormers 33 — Tries: Hacjivah Dayimani, Leolin Zas, Angelo Davids. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3). Penalties: Libbok (4).

Bulls 21 — Tries: Cyle Brink, Embrose Papier, Bismarck du Plessis. Conversions: Johan Goosen, Chris Smith (2).


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