DHL Stormers Flashback: Manie masterclass

PUBLISHED: May 16, 2024

Manie Libbok scored 23 points in the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal as the DHL Stormers beat a determined Connacht 43-25 at DHL Stadium.

Playing in front of a record 47 261 crowd, the defending champion DHL Stormers outscored the Irish visitors by six tries to four in a gripping semifinal in Cape Town, before relinquishing the Vodacom URC trophy to Munster in the final one week later.

Connacht enjoyed the better start as they silenced the vociferous local supporters by flying into an 8-0 lead thanks to an early try from Mack Hansen.

The first half then became the Libbok show as the DHL Stormers flyhalf turned in a classy performance, scoring a brace of tries and playing a hand in setting up Angelo Davids.

Davids touched down in the 16th minute from a great cross-kick by Libbok, who added the extra two and a penalty goal soon after to hand his team a two-point lead.

Libbok scored the Capetonians’ second try in the 28th minute after receiving a great pass into space from Herschel Jantjies, and earned his double five minutes later following a stunning break by Davids, who fended off a defender from a lineout play before spreading the ball.

That rapid-fire 24-point volley gave the DHL Stormers a vital buffer that the hosts would rely on when Connacht launched a brave comeback attempt in the second half.

Having got their tails up by scoring just before half time, the tourists made it a nervous final 20 minutes when flanker Shamus Hurley-Langton burrowed over and fullback Byron Ralston scored to cut the deficit to just four points.

However, when it mattered most, the DHL Stormers’ key players stood tall. Paul de Wet was on hand to finish off a stunning counter-attack, started with a magical offload from Ruhan Nel, before Marcel Theunissen and Nel – courtesy of two stunning Hacjivah Dayimani passes – ensured the result by dotting down in the final five minutes.