Manie Libbok kicks Stormers into a strong playoff position, Cardiff thrash 14-man Sharks

Planet Rugby
Stormers fly-half Manie Libbok set the ball before taking a kick.

Stormers fly-half Manie Libbok set the ball before taking a kick.

Springbok Manie Libbok played a huge role in the Stormers’ 12-16 win over Connacht in Galway which is vital for their playoff picture.

The Stormers scored just one try through Angelo Davids, which was assisted by Libbok, who kicked a conversion and three crucial penalties on the day.

Connacht played a hard game of rugby and actually scored more tries than their rivals with Caolin Blade and Jack Aungier crossing in each half with Jack Carty kicking one conversion.

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It was the Stormers’ first victory on Irish soil at the sixth attempt and effectively seals their place in the quarter-finals.

Both teams played with width early on as the visitors had Suleiman Hartzenberg fastening on to a kick in behind and O’Halloran soon got a chance to stretch his legs down the opposite wing.

Two early scrum penalties convinced the Stormers to opt for the set-piece option in the 19th minute. O’Halloran and Blade denied Davids near the left corner, but a further penalty saw Libbok open the scoring.

After O’Halloran was turned over, having taken a penalty quickly inside the visitors’ 22, Davids missed out on a blistering breakaway try when TMO Stefano Penne spotted Warrick Gelant’s forward pass.

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There was no denying Connacht on the half-hour mark, taking the tap option again from a penalty before scrum-half Blade ducked his way over from a ruck and Jack Carty added a well-struck conversion.

The Stormers remained try-less despite two defence-slashing runs from Damian Willemse and a late lineout maul, but they were back to their clinical best in the 50th minute.

Libbok used Gelant’s flick to tear up into Connacht’s 22 and send the supporting Davids over, with the Stormers’ fly-half converting to make it 10-7.

The Stormers’ indiscipline invited Connacht forward again, though, and off a maul platform, Sean Jansen and Bundee Aki carried strongly before Aungier reached over from close range.

Oisin Dowling’s turnover penalty ensured the Stormers left points behind them but Libbok brilliantly nailed a 45-metre penalty to put just a point in it at 13-12.

A scrum penalty allowed the Springbok to split the posts again four minutes later, and a series of knock-ons made for a frustrating finish for Connacht.

Cardiff shine in Durban with a big win

Cardiff cruised to victory against the 14-man Sharks as they claimed a 36-14 United Rugby Championship victory in Durban.
Sharks flanker Tino Mavesere was sent off after just 20 minutes following a shoulder-led challenge to the head of Cardiff and Wales full-back Cameron Winnett.

The visitors prospered, securing a bonus-point by half-time through tries from Alun Lawrence, Ben Donnell, Willis Halaholo and James Botham, while fly-half Ben Thomas kicked three conversions.

Lock Corne Rahl was the only survivor in the Sharks’ starting line-up following a home defeat against Benetton last time out.

None of the Sharks’ current Springboks contingent were involved prior to the EPCR Challenge Cup final against Gloucester in London.

Cardiff encountered few problems in claiming a rare five-point maximum on the road, with Thomas adding a second-half penalty before Wales back Mason Grady posted a late try that Thomas converted.

Centre Diego Appollis and replacement Curwin Bosch touched down for the home side, with Bosch and Lionel Cronje each kicking a conversion, but Sharks could have no complaints after being outplayed in all key departments.

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Number eight Lawrence collected Cardiff’s opening try after 15 minutes, underlining that the Sharks had a tough task on their hands.

But that degree of difficulty increased sharply after Mavesere was red-carded and Cardiff capitalised immediately.

More good work by their forwards had Sharks’ defence in reverse gear and Donnell was the beneficiary, with Thomas’ conversion opening up a 14-point lead.

Cardiff were then undone by a try from Appollis that Cronje converted, yet they recovered quickly as Halaholo showcased all his power to surge over Sharks’ line before Thomas added another two points.

A bonus point arrived six minutes before the interval through Botham’s score, sending Cardiff in to half-time with a 26-7 advantage.

A Thomas penalty left the Sharks further adrift and Grady crossed for a try eight minutes from time that Thomas converted before Bosch’s 78th-minute consolation.

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