WATCH: Manie Libbok once again the orchestrator as Stormers beat Connacht to reach another URC final

Stormers players celebrate a try during their United Rugby Championship game against Connacht at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday

Stormers players celebrate a try during their United Rugby Championship game against Connacht at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 13, 2023


Cape Town — It wasn't the best they dished up in a while, there were glimpses of champagne rugby with the six tries scored, but the Stormers did enough to secure a consecutive final in the United Rugby Championship after beating Connacht 43-25 in front of a fully packed DHL Stadium.

They spoke the whole week of the "dawg" in the Irish club and that bite from the visitors was clearly on show as they pushed the defending URC champions until the final whistle looking for an upset.

But, with most of the 47261 people behind them, and the wind at their back in the second half, the home team was good on defence and scored when it mattered to bury the team from Galway.

They will face Leinster or Munster in the final of the URC who were battling it out on Saturday evening in the Aviva Stadium for glory in the other semi.

It was a nervy start to the game for the Stormers as some of their key players made errors that could only be put down to the jitters. Flyhalf Manie Libbok had his eyes on where he wanted to kick a pressure-relieving kick and dropped it on his try line, then his pass to fullback Damian Willemse was knocked on with Willemse visibly annoyed at himself.

That brief spell of the yips gave the opening to Connacht, playing with a stiff breeze in their favour, to cross for a try wide after an early converted penalty.

But after the Stormers shook off their nervousness, after being 8-0 down, they started with a brilliant try after two perfectly executed crossfield kicks by Libbok — the first to create space on the left touchline and the second to send winger Angelo David over for the first try — to get this team on the board.

That was an iconic Stormers try, but not the best of the evening as they ran in five more tries that were all in spectacular fashion. The best one they saved for last when another Libbok crossfield kick found flanker Hacjivah Dayimani in space and he gave an around-the-back pass like a true baller sending centre Ruhan Nel over for the try.

Coming in a close second for the best try of the night was the first-half effort from Libbok who was beautifully put into space by a bulldozing run by Davids who had his best game in a Stormers jersey so far.

Davids got the ball off a lineout and blazed through the first line of Connacht defenders, stepping another one and running over a different one to release the ball to a waiting Libbok who went over for his second try.

Replacements Paul de Wet (scrumhalf) and Marcell Theunissen (flanker) were the other try scorers who all went over after devastating counterattacks by their teammates.

Libbok, who scored 23 points, entertained again with his kicks and when he ran with the ball, while his goal-kicking was again sublime. He did miss, but the crucial ones from the touchline went sailing through the poles.

Connacht, with their never-say-die attitude, were full value for the semi-final, and had they used some opportunities in the first half when they dominated possession, it could've been a different story.

The Stormers, though, will be happy with their attack and defensive effort and this testing semi-final will be a valuable one ahead of the May 27 final.


Stormers 43 — Tries: Manie Libbok (2), Angelo Davids, Paul de Wet, Marcel Theunissen, Ruhan Nel. Conversions: Libbok (5). Penalty: Libbok.

Connacht 25 — Tries: Mack Hansen, Conor Oliver, Shamus Hurley-Langton. Conversions: Jack Carty (2).


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