Munster sink Stormers as South Africa end the weekend winless while Dragons end year-long wait for a home win

Planet Rugby
Jack Crowley at the United Rugby Championship.

Jack Crowley at the United Rugby Championship.

It was a disappointing weekend for the South African United Rugby Championship (URC) sides, who all tasted defeat, with Munster securing a 10-3 win over the Stormers on Saturday evening.

It was a closely fought encounter between last season’s finalists, with the defending champions again emerging victorious thanks to an Edwin Edogbo try before half-time, converted by man-of-the-match Jack Crowley, who also opened the scoring with a penalty.

The Stormers scored the only points of the second half through the boot of centre Sacha Feinberg-Mgnogmezulu as the South Africans kept Munster at bay but also failed to capitalise on their opportunities.

The result completes a quartet of defeats for the SA URC sides after the Lions and Bulls lost on Friday evening before the Sharks fell to Connacht earlier on Saturday.

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Ireland stars Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray all returned for Munster, however, the poor weather conditions made for a cagey, defence-dominated contest.

Edogbo’s try just before half-time punished a yellow card for Stormers captain Neethling Fouche. Crowley converted, adding to his earlier penalty, for a 10-0 lead and Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s 45th-minute penalty proved to be the South Africans’ only score.

Despite the greasy ball, Munster exerted enough control to return to winning ways. The Stormers, though, have lost three URC games in a row for the first time.

John Dobson’s side still have to welcome back their Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks, but there were starts for international hooker Joseph Dweba and fit-again centre Feinberg-Mngomezulu in Limerick.

Sti Sithole jumped on the turnover ball to spoil Munster’s first maul attempt, and a promising break by Evan Roos was halted by a Willie Engelbrecht knock-on.

O’Mahony pinched a lineout back on Munster’s side, and when play moved infield, Crowley slotted over a 14th-minute penalty for the opening score.

Feinberg-Mngomezulu missed a long-range penalty before the Stormers’ maul defence soon came up trumps again, with Roos and Ben-Jason Dixon getting the plaudits.

Munster failed to capitalise on breaks from Alex Nankivell and Shane Daly, while Daly and Crowley covered Leolin Zas’ dangerous run and kick chase.

The hosts crucially dominated play just before the interval, and the Stormers’ third successive maul penalty, near their own line, landed Fouche in the bin.

The 20-year-old Edogbo crashed over from a ruck at the end of eight battering phases. Crowley converted with the final kick of the half.

Ruben van Heerden’s lineout steal early on the resumption, coupled with some improved carrying from his team-mates, set up Feinberg-Mngomezulu to split the posts from close range.

Veteran prop Stephen Archer then came on for his 268th Munster appearance, equalling Donncha O’Callaghan’s record as their most-capped player of all-time.

An Engelbrecht turnover penalty thwarted a promising Munster spell, while Roos was held up twice amid a series of scrum penalties where the Stormers really got on top.

Crowley and Murray’s tactical kicking pinned the opposition back late on, and even when Angelo Davids had some rare space to attack, Nankivell and Crowley swiftly slammed the door shut.

Dragons end year-long wait for home win

The Dragons recorded their first United Rugby Championship home win for more than a year after seeing off 14-man Ospreys 20-5 at Rodney Parade.

Hooker Bradley Roberts and wing Rio Dyer scored tries as the Dragons triumphed following Ospreys wing Mat Protheroe being sent off for a dangerous challenge after just 27 minutes.

Full-back Cai Evans kicked two conversions and two penalties, with Dragons moving clear after Protheroe’s early touchdown.

Dragons last tasted home league success in October 2022 when they defeated Zebre Parma, and the Ospreys could have few complaints on a night when so many things went wrong for them.

The Ospreys took just four minutes to open their account, and it was a superbly executed play as scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams floated a kick behind the Dragons’ defence, which allowed Protheroe a simple finish.

In contrast, the Dragons took time to settle, and their cause was not helped when Wales international lock Ben Carter limped off just 13 minutes into the contest.

Evans opened the Dragons’ account with a penalty, but Ospreys then suffered a quickfire double blow when Protheroe was sent off and skipper Justin Tipuric departed injured.

Referee Ben Whitehouse issued a straight red card following forceful head-on-head contact with Dragons fly-half Will Reed, then Tipuric departed to be replaced by Wales skipper Jac Morgan.

A second Evans penalty edged the Dragons ahead before they carved Ospreys’ defence open through a fine try finished by Roberts.

Flanker Ollie Griffiths displayed impressive vision and accuracy to free Roberts on an inside ball, and he surged to the line, smashing through Ospreys wing Luke Morgan’s attempted challenge for a try that Evans converted and secured a 13-5 interval advantage.

The Ospreys temporarily went down to 13 players midway through the second half when Morgan received a yellow card after a tip-tackle on Dyer.

It further increased Ospreys’ degree of difficulty, although the Dragons entered the final quarter having not been able to increase their first-half points tally.

Dyer’s dazzling break should have led to a try, but centre Aneurin Owen’s poor pass flew wide of wing Ewan Rosser.

Yet Evans’ delivery then put the Wales international clear for a clinching score 15 minutes from time, and the Dragons could celebrate the first victory of the URC campaign.

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