Saturday, February 4, 2023 | Solid Libbok shows class to spare Stormers blushes in rainy... | Solid Libbok shows class to spare Stormers blushes in rainy draw with Osrpeys




Manie Libbok. (Photo by Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)

Manie Libbok. (Photo by Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)

While they won’t be miffed by the result, the Stormers’ post-title bubble was undeniably pricked after they were held to a 16-all draw by Ospreys in Friday night’s gritty URC encounter in Swansea.

It’s debatable whether the gutsy, if limited, hosts deserved to walk away with the spoils – they enjoyed the majority possession and territory – but legitimate questions can be asked of the defending champions’ current ability to tweak their skilful, fluent game towards a more percentage-based one when the going gets tough.

RECAP | URC – Ospreys v Stormers

And, on a night where the conditions were atrocious, they lacked the discipline and forward momentum to do so.

The Stormers’ front row struggled to gain parity at scrum-time, while the exciting loose trio of Evan Roos, Hacjivah Dayimani and Nama Xaba were kept quiet and might even have been accused of being anonymous at certain stages.

However, there was one shining light.  

If Manie Libbok is going to be a wildcard selection for the Springboks on their tour to Europe next month, his showing would’ve done his cause no harm.

The compact pivot was an instrumental presence for the defending champions, executing everything that was required of him well and, essentially, proving the player that kept the Stormers in the game.

Some will question whether this is actually news given his tremendous growth as a player since joining the Capetonians, but what was eye-catching about this performance was that Libbok did so on a night when the rain bucketed down, rendering passing a lottery and when he didn’t have the luxury of a pack granting him a platform.

That he stood up so well suggests he might indeed have the temperament for Test rugby.

Libbok’s goal-kicking was flawless and it was his vision that led to the Stormers’ sole try.

Following a bout of aerial ping-pong, replacement Steven Kitshoff carried vigorously before halfback Paul de Wet cleared almost wildly from the breakdown but managed to find his partner.

Sensing an opportunity, Libbok ran a subtle angle and then gave a scissor pass to Leolin Zas, who broke the line and made the scoring pass to De Wet.

It was a brilliant illustration of the Stormers’ enduring ability to also keep the scoreboard ticking from scraps.

Libbok might’ve even been his side’s hero had his drop-goal attempt in the final minute not gone wide.

Meanwhile, Ospreys – as one would probably expect – looked far more at home in the conditions,

They had battled to get out of their own half in the first quarter as the Stormers monopolised possession without showing any punch.

But as they started to gain the upper hand at the set-piece, so did their confidence grow.

There was a gilt-edged opportunity late in the first half when centre Mike Collins was freed up, only to be stifled by some superb Stormers defence – one of the visitors’ highlights of their showing – and a knock-on by wing Keelan Giles with the line at his mercy.

Given their superior initiative, it was unsurprising that the Stormers would give them scoring opportunities, which flyhalf Steve Myler gleefully accepted with his accurate boot.

That morphed into a deserved maul try for hooker Scott Baldwin later on, but a winner couldn’t be found. 

Point scorers:

Ospreys – (3)

Try: Scott Baldwin

Conversion: Steve Myler

Penalties: Myler (3)

Stormers – (6)

Try: Paul de Wet

Conversion: Manie Libbok

Penalties: Libbok (2)

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