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Munster monster snatches URC trophy

By Lucky Maree

As the teams come onto the field Munster are very intense, quiet and focused. The Stormers, are clearly ready to play, but there are smiles all around.

Thankfully, the skies are clear and the field looks to be in great shape.

John Dobson, as Breyton Paulse, says, wears his heart on his sleeve. Munster coach Graham Rowntree plays his cards very close to his chest. All week Munster has been happy to be the underdogs. But don’t be fooled. They are ready for the fight.

As the match starts, it’s a good early sign for the home team that Munster concedes a penalty that snaps just a little of nervous over-exuberance.

For the next few minutes it’s all Munster – but then a Stormers player, with a big smile on his face, takes a perfect intercept and scores under the posts.

The player? Manie Libbok, of course.

Munster spends some minutes right on the Stormers’ try line. Munster’s score is a no-nonsense power shove by the forwards. Hooker Diarmuid Barron is the try scorer. The conversion fails and the Stormers are two points in the lead.

Evan Roos is always close to the yellow cards but this time he gets sent off for playing the ball on the Munster side of the ruck. It’s 20 nervous minutes for both teams until eighthman Gavin Coombs goes over – but the try is not allowed. A massive let-off for the Stormers.

The high kicks from scrumhalf Conor Murray from behind the scrum is very predictable – but also very effective.

Again the Stormers have to scramble and a Munster try is disallowed because of the smallest of knock-ons. Just a minute later Mike Haley goes over for a try in the corner – and once again . . . no try! The replay indicates a forward pass.

The Stormers are living on scraps – and so far they are very, very lucky.

With only seconds to go before Evan Roos comes back, Jack Crowley chips for the corner and the bounce favours wing Calvin Nash. In fairness, the try under the posts is well-deserved.

Peter O’Mahoney goes off injured and RG Snyman, the man they call the Viking, comes on for Munster.

As the clock ticks onto 40 minutes, the Stormers say no thank you, to a kickable penalty. The hooter goes with Munster’s five-point lead still intact.

Sadly, at the start of the second half, the pitch has fallen apart again. It’s beginning to look like a wet, sandy beach.

In the first minute of the second half, Libbok gets an easy penalty, which he hooks to the right. That may hurt later.

For the first time in the match, the Stormers have their fair share of the possession and appear to be back in the contest.

Referee Andrea Piardi sends Mike Haley off for obstructing Angelo Davids and Munster will be without their fullback for 10 minutes.

Deon Fourie is the ball carrier when the Stormer’s forwards maul over the line. Given Libbok’s earlier failure, the conversion kick is a real tester – but Libbok nails it. The Stormers are in front by two points.

Munster are beginning to let the Stormer’s backline play their running game, and that could cost the visitors. But the Stormers look as if they have gone into defensive mode and that is dangerous. The match is on a knife edge.

Steven Kitshoff is given a standing ovation as his career in a blue hooped jersey comes to an end after 70 minutes.

Then, the turning point. John Hodnett goes over in the corner and Calvin Crowley converts. The Stormers need a try.

With only two minutes to go, Jack Crowley gets a card for interfering with the scrumhalf. The Stormers are on the attack. Then time’s up as Stormers get one more penalty. It’s one last roll of the dice for the Stormers. Whistle. Scrum to Munster. Munster are the URC champion.

Stormers (2 tries) 14-19 (3 tries) Munster.

Pictured above: Stormers taking on Munster