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Stormers go down to Munster to complete miserable URC weekend for SA teams

Munster's Jack Crowley carries the ball during their United Rugby Championship match against the Stormers

Munster's Jack Crowley carries the ball during their United Rugby Championship match against the Stormers at Thomond Park in Limerick on Saturday. Photo: Bryan Keane/INPHO/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Published Nov 18, 2023

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The Stormers' overseas woes continued as they fell to a third loss against Munster on Saturday night in Limerick in a repeat of last year's United Rugby Championship (URC) final.

The result meant all four South African teams were on the losing side in their URC matches this weekend.

On a wet and windy Thomond Park, Munster defended excellently under pressure and forced the Stormers to make some basic errors as they took the spoils 10-3, winning their third match against the Cape side in 2023.

The defending champions played a similar forward-based game in the rain that won them the last two matches earlier this year in the Mother City, as they used their pick-and-go plays around the breakdown and their lineout prowess to upset the Stormers.

In the first half alone, the former URC champions lost about a handful of lineouts as a few skew throw-ins and a great contest amongst others by Munster legend Peter O'Mahony turned over possession. In the second half, the same happened as the home side contested very well in the lineout.

Losing five-lock Gary Porter early in the contest also did not help the Stormers' cause to improve their lineout after it gave their forwards coach Rito Hlungwani sleepless nights after their loss to Benetton. Hlungwani will no doubt toss and turn again after the latest lineout struggles.

But the struggles were not just amongst the forwards and that part of the set piece, and it's clear the influence of World Cup-winning flyhalf Manie Libbok is missing at the back.

There's currently no flyhalf to give the Stormers direction on attack. Jean-Luc du Plessis has a solid left boot on him, and he is not scared to put his body on the line when defending or taking up the ball. But he cannot marshall the attack like Libbok. And their attack is struggling to awaken this season.

Winger Leolin Zas had a solid run up the middle in the first half when he was put into space by a brilliant pop from fullback Warrick Gelant. But currently, Gelant is the only player who's able to generate some attacking shape with his silky skills.

The Stormers' scrums and rolling mauls were good, though. Loosehead Sti Sithole was excellent in his return to the side, and in the absence of Springbok Lizo Gqoboka, he and the rest of the front rowers worked their opposition into submission at scrum time.

Eighth-man Evan Roos and loose forward Ben-Jason Dixon had good outings too with their powerful runs and fearless defending.

Roos carried hard and gained meters every time he ran with the ball, bumping off would-be defenders in the process. He was twice held up over the try line as the Stormers looked for the five-pointer to square the score.

Little errors again hampered John Dobson's side, and they have one more match in Europe, against Cardiff this Friday, to claim a first win on their tour.

They will have to cut out those errors and lack of discipline if they want to be on the winning side. There was another yellow card, this time to captain Neethling Fouche, and late in the second half youngster Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu kicked the ball beyond the deadball line, looking to find touch for an attacking lineout.

And after failing to score a try against Glasgow in the first game, they did so again against Munster which is indicative of a team missing their general on the attack.

It's been just over a year since the Stormers last won outside of South Africa in the URC, and they will look to end this hoodoo when they play in Wales this Friday.

Point-scorers

Stormers 3 — Penalty: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Munster 10 — Try: Edwin Odogbo. Conversion: Jack Crowley. Penalty: Crowley.

IOL Sport