Munster Rugby 34-18 DHL Stormers: A game of two halves

Munster Rugby triumph in a game of two halves

Thomond Park has a strange habit of turning games on its head. The round two fixture last Saturday night was no exception as Munster Rugby regroup from 0-15 down in the opening half to win 34-18.

DHL Stormers’ performance in the opening period is why the United Rugby Championship require the South African sides in this competition. Stormers on the front foot, winning collisions. Good attacking opportunities then presented themselves.

Their first attacking move was to expose Joey Carbery, that was the trend in the opening quarter as Munster Rugby covered tackles for their lives. I was impressed by Manie Libbok. His kicking off the tee may have been a mixed bag but his game management and attacking orchestration were superb.

Libbok’s line break setup the opening try with full back Warrick Gelant supporting superbly to touch down. 0-5 suddenly turned to 0-12 when Leolin Zas exposed defensive fragility on the outside defensive edge of Munster Rugby.

Keith Earls and Calvin Nash not in defensive synchronization. Zas put on the after burners and crossed over for a superb try. Munster Rugby rattled!

Warrick Gelant took over the kicking off the tee for the DHL Stormers and slotted home a regulation penalty after Munster Rugby were pinged by Andrew Brace deep in their own half. 0-15.

Cue the Munster Rugby response. DHL Stormers were living precariously in the breakdown and Munster Rugby were now getting penalties from Andrew Brace which setup territory for Jack O’Donoghue to crash over right on half-time. Carbery slotted home. 7-15 at the break. Munster Rugby getting out of jail being eight points behind.

What happened in the third quarter? Munster Rugby did improve, increased the tempo in their own play and DHL Stormers were starting to lose the plot. Indiscipline spread like wildfire through the side. Munster Rugby preyed on the penalties awarded and the pack did the rest. Jean Kleyn had another massive night with ball in hand. He crashed over on forty-seven minutes when Salmaan Moerat was given yellow.

Niall Scannell scored eight minutes later, the maul too much for a now overworked Stormers pack. Jack O’Donoghue then had a brace of tries going over five minutes later. Game turned on head. Tim Swiel’s penalty gave DHL Stormers a chance heading into the final quarter but Munster Rugby all round game was now much improved, turnover ball created and RG Snyman announced himself to the home faithful with a massive ball carry to crash over.

Ball in one hand, other hand fending off three Stormers players. The score was greeted with a massive roar. The game was over as a contest despite the Stormers back three continuing to probe and create line breaks. Stormers will look on anxiously on the match report as there were two flashpoint incidents during the second half with accusations of a leg bite and eye gouge.

Munster Rugby win but there is plenty to ponder on this performance. The missed tackle count in the opening half mirrored what we saw against the Bulls in round one. This time, Stormers were more clinical. Joey Carbery endured a tough night, his defensive side of play was consistently exploited last night. The kicking off the tee was off given the pressure exerted by the Stormers. It was a night to forget.

Ben Healy came in and the kicking game improved no end. We have a ten jersey battle here folks and with Jack Crowley waiting, Carbery needs to step it up as the young guns are looking for the ten jersey for keeps!

DHL Stormers have mental scars from this opening salvo in the tournament. Two games where they could have won but did not, soul searching required and how the side do not surrender their advantage when in the ascendency. Their attacking game is superb but the discipline in the side needs massive rework!

A super game of rugby. It had needle, it was feisty, it had tries. Thomond Park again delivers a fixture which ebbed and flowed. Never change Thomond Park, never change!

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