Munster secure hard-fought 10-3 win over Stormers.
By Gavin Rich.
Munster made it four out of four against the DHL Stormers as they held on in the face of a strong physical effort from their opponents in inclement conditions at Thomond Park to clinch a 10-3 Vodacom Rugby Championship win.
It was a repeat of last year's final and a similar result, although the Stormers might have felt they had a stronger claim to get at least a draw in this return game. It was another frustrating night for the South African team as they failed to capitalise on their dominance in the second half, particularly in the third quarter.
Evan Roos, who produced a barn-storming performance and would surely have been the official man of the match had the Cape team won, was over the line twice but was held up. And then there were the little irritating errors that unfortunately have become too much of a trend for the Stormers this season, like Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu kicking too long from a hard-earned scrum penalty in the 68th minute.
What Munster were doing well at that point was making sure that the Stormers were pinned in their own half and they desperately needed the field position that would have come their way had Feinberg-Mngomezulu got it out. Instead, it went out over the dead-ball line so it was Munster's scrum deep in the Stormers' half.
In the end, it was a six-minute siege of the Stormers line from attacking lineouts that came from penalties leading up to halftime that won the game for the hosts. Munster were leading 3-0 at the time in a game that was mostly being played in the middle parts of the field and it was their decision not to kick for posts, but rather set up field position, from a penalty that worked for them.
Referee Sam Grove-White had to warn the Stormers on a few occasions for infringements he saw them make in defending the Munster drive and then, after the warning following the third penalty, he reached into his pocket and banished Stormers captain Neethling Fouche for 10 minutes.
It was straight after Fouche left the field that Munster capitalised through a try from lock Edwin Edgobo, and with the conversion it meant the URC champions took a 10-0 lead into halftime.
To be fair, while the Stormers had been abrasive and physical, mostly in their defensive work, they didn’t look like scoring themselves in that first half, which was blighted by wet conditions. Their one opportunity was a penalty kick lined up by Feinberg-Mngomezulu in the 18th minute and sort of summed up the Stormers’ luck at the moment that the rain seemed to intensify as he missed the attempt.
Feinberg-Mngomezulu was on target in the second half from in front of the posts during a long period of sustained Stormers pressure to make it a seven-point game, but try as they might, and they did have several opportunities, their dominance at forward after halftime did not pay off in terms of points.
One big plus for the Stormers on the night was their scrumming, with Munster pretty much being destroyed in that phase on occasion, and the introduction of former Emirates Lions loosehead Sti Sithole to the mix appeared to pay off quite handsomely.
The Stormers pack wouldn't have been helped by the early injury to Gary Porter that forced the lock off and prevented coach John Dobson from using Adre Smith as an impact sub later in the game. Because of the Porter injury, Smith played pretty close to the whole game.
The Stormers did get a point for losing by seven and to be fair to them, the only real reason that the loss will be seen as a setback was because of what happened the week before, when they lost when they should have won against Benetton.
They were much better in this game than they were in Treviso and would have escaped with at least a draw had they capitalised in the period when they were camped on the Munster line.
The defeat means the Stormers remain winless away from South Africa since last October and that will be a concern for their coach as they head now to Cardiff for the last game of their four-match tour.
MUNSTER 10 - Try: Edwin Edogbo; Conversion: Jack Crowley;
PENALTY: Jack Crowley.
DHL STORMERS 3 –
PENALTY: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.