So that’s that ... Munster are URC champions. Few would’ve thought it with how they started the season, but it’s how you finish that counts and they’ve beaten Leinster and the reigning champions both in their own back yard. A first bit of silverware since 2011 for the red army to celebrate. They dominated the first half, but the second half was all about character, a brilliant defensive effort, and as they did in the semi-final, Munster men stood up in all the crucial moments to get the job done.
Keep your eye on the homepage for Gerry Thornley’s report, and reaction from him and John O’Sullivan.
Thanks for joining us!
FT Stormers 14 Munster 19
Man of the match John Hodnett: “We’ve had it tough the last few weeks on the road. Winning here is massive for the whole squad. It’s a whole year’s work. It hasn’t fully sunken in yet, especially for the older lads, the monkey’s off the back.”
Captain Peter O’Mahony: “50 minutes in we go down, some incredible defensive performances. We show incredible resilience and skills to score a very well worked try to finish it off. We’ve had a fair amount of trips away from home and they’ve accumulated to this. We spoke about it last night, about instances when we’d struggle.”
Graham Rowntree: “I’m immensely proud of my lads. That momentum of going away on the road and winning games. Is exactly what you need to win games like this!”
FT Stormers 14 Munster 19 Munster with a huge turnover as they defend the Stormers lineout maul with time up! Of course Tadhg Beirne has the ball as the full time whistle is blown. The 12 year trophy drought is over and the Munster players are loving it!!
TURNOVER MUNSTER! THEY’VE WON IT!!
Stormers 14 Munster 19 (79′) Munster go off their feet and the hosts now have a lineout in the Munster 22, with a man advantage. One minute left.
With 77.45 on the clock Stormers win a lineout on halfway but then knock it forward! Looked to be a bit of rogue play from Crowley though. The TMO is having a look... The Munster 10 is shown a yellow, he knocked the ball out of the hands of the Stormers scrumhalf at the breakdown.
Stormers 14 Munster 19 (77′) The big men make ground through the middle, Beirne and Synman, Mike Haley then passes outside to Daly who pops inside to Hodnett and the flankers drives over with South Africans hanging off him. Crowley from the sideline nails it!!! What character by Munster!
Libbok dummy kicks but then gets blocked down on his second go by a diving Coombes, Munster now have it in the Stormers 22...
Keith Earls is on for the final 10 minutes and he claims a kick and brings it to halfway with his first involvement. Coombes knocks on in contact however and Stormers have a scrum on halfway.
Stormers 14 Munster 12 (68′) Nash clears up a crossfield kick from Libbok. Goal line drop-out to come. This is all suiting the hosts, the game being played in Munster’s half as they trail by two points.
An awful crossfield kick by Healy in his own half is straight to a Stormers player, but he kicks out of play himself. Stormers counter off Munster’s clearing kick. Fekitoa comes up with a big turnover in his own 22. Munster kick to their 10m line. Win the lineout and some kick tennis follows.
Stormers 14 Munster 12 (61′) Stormers restart the play with a scrum on their own 10m line after a Snyman offload went forward. Ben Healy is on with Crowley gone to 12, Fekitoa to 13 and Frisch is replaced.
Daly receives a pass deep in his own 22 and does very well not to be driven behind his own try line. Murray’s clearance fails to find touch but Munster’s scramble defence is brilliant and a breathless spell off play ends with a Stormers mark in their own 22. A let off for Munster but at the same time they really dug deep there.
Stormers 14 Munster 12 (57′) Munster kick to the corner... then comes a big call from the referee. He spots an obstruction from Jeremy Loughman as Munster set up the lineout maul. That’s the second time Munster have been penalised for doing that.
Daly makes a break after good work by Frisch and then Fekitoa as Munster carry through the phases. They move inside the Stormers 22, and a man short they keep making ground ... Stormers go offside. Penalty Munster.
Stormers 14 Munster 12 (51′) Huge for the hosts. Munster get penalised for not rolling away, Stormers kick to the corner and their lineout maul powers over. Fourie comes up with the ball. Libbok nails the conversion. It has been coming.
Stormers 7 Munster 12 (48′) Munster defend the lineout maul bravely before a big hit by Haley forces a spill, Frisch flicks it on beautifully and Munster clear the danger. That’s excellent defence ... but the Stormers come again. Haley is shown a yellow card, for taking Davids out off the ball, as he chased his own kick through.
No contest in the air but Munster concede a penalty as they defend the Stormers lineout maul... another lineout incoming.
Some kick tennis ends with Murray gathering on halfway. But Kitshoff forces a big turnover and Stormers have a lineout now just inside the Munster 22.
Stormers 7 Munster 12 (41′) The second half is underway! Munster, just like in the first half concede an early penalty, this time Snyman (no sign of O’Mahony returning from that HIA) didn’t roll away. Libbok points to the posts... and it drifts wide.
HT Stormers 7 Munster 12 Munster defend two lineout mauls within a few minutes, Synman is a big part of a really strong defensive effort. They turn it over and kick the ball out from inside their 22.
That’s it for the first half. Munster have been really good. Denied a try by the smallest of margins on three occasions, while the try they conceded was an individual error. More of the same after the break and the drought will be over!
A good lineout move by Stormers who come back inside to Jantjies with a smart bit of play, but Munster’s defence is alive to it, then John Hodnett comes up with a huge turnover!
Stormers 7 Munster 12 (36′) Coombes goes off his feet giving Stormers a penalty on halfway and Libbok kicks them inside the Munster 22.
A stoppage in play as Peter O’Mahony is treated for a head injury and he’s replaced by RG Snyman while he’s off for a HIA.
A big big hit by Malakai Fekitoa in the middle of the field forces a knock on. Scrum Munster, they have had 62 per cent of possession. 71 per cent of the game has been played in the South African’s half!
Stormers 7 Munster 12 (30′) At last some luck for Munster. They go through the phases showing massive energy and physicality, then Crowley’s crossfield kick takes out the last man and bounces up perfectly for Calvin Nash. This time the conversion is good. Talk about well deserved, Munster take the lead.
Another disallowed try for Munster!!! Just a minute later, O’Mahony’s offload was forward before Mike Haley dived over brilliantly in the left corner.
A very smart chip and chase by Mike Haley, it spills back in front of Frisch who knocks on when trying to dive on it, before Shane Daly picks up and touches down. No try. But Munster are getting closer.
Another good Murray box kick is excellently contested and Munster have it on halfway. They’ve been the better team here by a distance, have a man advantage yet trail by two points!
Stormers 7 Munster 5 (20′) The lineout maul by Munster again powers to the line. The TMO is now looking to see if there’s a second Munster try here ... Gavin Coombes grounded it but the TMO spotted a double movement. Penalty Stormers and a real let-off for them.
A brilliant break by Crowley but as he’s taken down just short, Munster win a penalty at the breakdown. Evan Roos went offside and he’s shown a yellow.
Two good box kicks from Conor Murray, the second is gathered by Peter O’Mahony on the bounce and Munster are just outside the Stormers 22...
Stormers kick out on the full giving Munster a good opportunity on the host’s 22, but Beirne is penalised for obstructing the tacklers following the lineout win. So from there Munster are defending a lineout on halfway.
Stormers 7 Munster 5 (11′) TRY MUNSTER!! Tadhg Beirne gathers the lineout and Munster’s maul powers over with Diarmuid Barron getting the try. Crowley’s conversion is dragged badly wide. Perfect response!!
Stormers go offside and Crowley kicks deep into the corner. Superb from the young outhalf. The subsequent lineout maul is good but Munster are held up. Penalty (Libbok offside), they’ll go again...
Stormers 7 Munster 0 (6′) Antoine Frisch’s attempted offload in the tackle is intercepted by Manie Libbok who carries it from beyond his own 10m line to run under the posts. He destroyed Connacht, and after a tap over conversion already has seven points in the final! Frisch needed to hold on to the ball there after giving some good passes out wide earlier in the move!
Some kick tennis ends with a well executed first Munster lineout on halfway. It’s worked out to the right wing and back to centre with Munster playing through a penalty advantage for a deliberate knock on. Crowley opts to chip inside but the Stormers’ cover is alert and they clear their lines beyond halfway.
Stomers 0 Munster 0 (1′) Jack Crowley’s kick-off is gathered in the Stomers 22 where the hosts win an early penalty with Munster penalised at the breakdown. GAME ON in front of a sell-out record crowd in Cape Town!
Eight minutes until kick-off!
Munster head coach Graham Rowntree: “We are playing the champions at home, their record here speaks for itself so we have got to be at out best!”
And a look back on the two semi-finals the weekend before last ...
Less than a half an hour until kick-off in Cape Town..
And a look now at our rugby columns this week...
Some more pre-match reading ahead of kick-off in just under an hour...
Crowley’s growing confidence should make their meeting in the final not just a contrast of styles but a challenge to self-belief and confidence ...
Denis Leamy is trying to provide a verbal handbrake on what is threatening to become a runaway caboose of expectation, one that is gathering speed ...
The Stormers hooker chanted: ‘We are gonna fuck them up’ in the leaked video clip ...
Munster secondrow Jean Kleyn is returning to the club of his formative years, but there’ll be no sentiment in Cape Town this evening:
I’ve been with Munster a good few years now. As far as a club means something to me, it means everything
Deon Fourie’s enduring quality and versatility demonstrating that age is no barrier: The veteran flanker became the oldest debutant for South Africa when Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named him on the bench – he came on – for the second in the three Test series against Wales in Bloemfontein last summer.
“Someone my age, making your debut at 35 [he is now 36] you have been looking forward to it for a long time. To have my whole family, my wife, and my kids there, to share it with everyone, it was really special.”
An interesting piece with the Stomers backrow forward by John O’Sullivan, read it here.
Munster are still the underdogs, for sure. But suddenly, after banging on the door for over a decade, when least expected to do so they’ve taken the tradesman’s entrance to the final
United Rugby Championship final: Stormers v Munster, DHL Stadium, Cape Town, 5.30pm (6.30pm local time), Live on TG4 and Premier Sport
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR, 36th competition match, 1st final).
Top try scorers: Stormers – Clayton Blommetjies, Angelo Davids 6 each. Munster – Gavin Coombes 10.
Top points scorers: Stormers – Manie Libbok 208. Munster – Joey Carbery 92
STORMERS: Damian Willemse; Angelo Davids, Ruhan Nel, Dan du Plessis, Leolin Zas; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Steven Kitshoff (capt), Joseph Dweba, Frans Malherbe; Ruben van Heerden, Marvin Orie; Deon Fourie, Hacjivah Dayimani, Evan Roos. Replacements: JJ Kotze, Ali Vermaak, Neethling Fouche, Ben-Jason Dixon, Willie Engelbrecht, Marcel Theunissen, Paul de Wet, Clayton Blommetjies.
MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Malakai Fekitoa, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (capt), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, RG Snyman, Alex Kendellen, Craig Casey, Ben Healy, Keith Earls.
For Munster Jack Crowley starts at 10, with Ben Healy on the bench. Conor Murray, Malakai Fekitoa and Calvin Nash all return to the side, while RG Snyman, the fourth player to be ruled out of the semi-final as a consequence of a head injury in the Glasgow game, also returns to the match-day squad.
Stormers make two changes from their semi-final win over Connacht, as the fit again duo of Marvin Orie and Deon Fourie come into the pack.
Hello and Welcome ... Munster are one win away from ending their 12 year trophy drought, with Graham Rowntree’s team facing the Stormers in this evening’s URC final. Munster’s last trophy was the 2011 Magners League, losing three finals since then, in 2015, 2017 and 2021. After beating Leinster in the semi-final at the Aviva, next up they face the reigning champions in South Africa. It’ll be some way to win it!
Kick-off at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town is at 5.30pm (6.30pm local time).
We’ll keep you up to date with all the build-up, and action as it unfolds. Keep in touch via the comments section or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon) but for now, let’s get started!