Manie Libbok kicks Stormers to narrow win over Connacht in URC fixture

Manie Libbok kicks Stormers to narrow win over Connacht in URC fixture

The Stormers edged out a 16-12 win over Connacht at Dexcom Stadium, in their United Rugby Championship clash, thanks to two late penalties from Manie Libbok.

Retiring full-back Tiernan O'Halloran missed out on a winning send-off in his native Galway, with Connacht's top-eight hopes now hanging by a thread.

Caolin Blade's 30th-minute try, converted by Jack Carty, gave them a 7-3 half-time lead, with their much-improved defence restricting the South Africans to a lone penalty from player-of-the-match Libbok.

Angelo Davids and Connacht replacement Jack Aungier exchanged tries but John Dobson's fifth-placed side, armed with a wind advantage, decided this scrappy contest through Libbok's right boot as he finished with 11 points.

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.

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.

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