Stormers Libbok Springbok

Manie Libbok has reached new heights over the last 18 months. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

REACTION: How Libbok saved underwhelming Stormers’ blushes

Stormers boss John Dobson breathed a sign of relief as the Manie Libbok-inspired Stormers sealed a plucky four-point win to stay in the title race.

Stormers Libbok Springbok

Manie Libbok has reached new heights over the last 18 months. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Stormers coach John Dobson has admitted that his team has to start preparing for an away playoff for the first time in the competition’s short history.

The Stormers managed to just about hang onto their fifth-place position on the URC log following their nervy 16-12 win against a plucky Connacht side in trying weather conditions in Galway.

The result wrapped up the Stormers’ two-match two of Europe. Like the rest of the teams in the URC, they’ll now enjoy a welcome bye-week before the last round of regular season action scheduled for 31 May and 1 June, before the playoffs commences.

On the back of an inconsistent and erratic performance, the Stormers have Libbok to thank for pulling them through to a hard-fought victory, which was enough to see them advance to the quarter-finals. Libbok knocked over a conversion and three penalties for a personal haul of 11 points.


Speaking after the match against Connacht, Dobson hailed his team for their character and excellent game management even when they were playing their best rugby.

“There’s a sub-narrative to that, because we are established now,” Dobson said. “We’ve got guys who are two or three years in, like Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, so maybe we shouldn’t be relying on our character as much as we do.

“We aren’t putting away teams like we should. Saying that, there is an amazing culture and work-ethic across this group of players,” Dobson said of the Stormers’ effort. “Connacht were playing the last game at home, they had to win it, the stands are getting pulled down and there was a lot of emotional stuff before the game with people who had passed away.

“For us to defend like that is not something we coach, it’s in the group. There is a very special caring for each other.

“It’s frustrating that it’s a game that is so close, but at the end how we shut it down speaks volumes of the character of this team.”


Dobson explained that his charges know they’re most likely to play every single playoff on the road if they want to make the final, because they misfired throughout the season.

“From where we were, the important thing was to make the quarter-finals,” the Stormers boss explained in reference to their nightmarish European tour earlier this season which resulted in four defeats in as many games.

“We put ourselves under pressure with that tour and the Ospreys loss. So it’s been a very nerve-racking thing for us to get two wins on tour.

“They were tough wins. These aren’t games we would’ve won a while ago. So it’s a nice feeling. It was tougher than we thought it was going to be, but it’s still a nice feeling.”

“Every one of the Stormers’ playoffs has been at Cape Town Stadium, so it might be good for our growth to try and win a quarter-final away. In fact, I have no doubt it would be.

“That’s not a justification for us not qualifying for a home playoff, of course we wanted to do that. But I think it’s going to be good for us to do it. The Stormers’ goal was that we at least wanted to get to the semi-finals.

“We have to win that quarter-final, no matter where we go. All of them are tough, whether it’s in Glasgow, Dublin, Limerick or at Loftus. But this will be good for us. We need to go through this experience,” the Stormers director of rugby concluded.

Stormers wing Angelo Davids scored the only try against Connacht
Stormers wing Angelo Davids scored the only try against Connacht. Image: Via Stormers website.