The Stormers were magnanimous in defeat to Munster, post-match, but two of their starting XV may regret some early celebrations.
Stormers head coach John Dobson was full of praise for the Munster side that defeated his men 19-14 in a hard-fought United Rugby Championship Final, on Saturday. So, too, was his captain, Steven Kitshoff.
Munster won the URC from the sixth seed spot after winning all three of their knock-out games on the road. “They put us under enormous pressure on defence and it was easily our worst defensive half (of the season) but only because of how good Munster were,” Dobson observed.
“In the second half we were nano-seconds away from winning the game as one more score would have made it safe. Munster thoroughly deserved their win and what they have achieved in winning playoff games away is really special and shows what a fine team they are.
“But I did feel I got something wrong. On that field, which was really bad today, maybe it was naive of me not to change our game plan to suit the conditions. The fight Munster had was unbelievable. I genuinely believe that while we came so close they deserved to win that game and are deserved champions.”
It was not all sweetness and light, though. Ahead of the game, South African rugby writer Mark Keohane was bullish in his final predictions:
“Of course Stormers are going to do it and they’re going to do it well. They’ll do it emphatically. If it had been an afternoon kick-off, I would have said by 30 points. But I’ve reigned it in a little bit, because of the weather. 33-20 and I’m saying that with Munster getting a late try, and we’re all celebrating already, on 78 minutes. Give them one.
“Heroic Munster, they’ve won six in a row on the road but it all ends at the DHL Stadium… it’s just going to be emphatic. This Stormers side is too good.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) May 27, 2023
Stormers players wind up Peter O’Mahony
Early in the final, there was a moment picked up by broadcaster Super Sport, and highlighted by Murray Kinsella on Twitter.
As Mannie Libbok ran in an intercept try, under the posts, Stormers backs Herschel Jantjes and Leolin Zas started celebrating and chawing in front of Munster captain Peter O’Mahony. The Cork native had been in the wars on Munster’s last visit to Cape Town so was clearly Public Enemy No.1 for the South Africans.
As we know now, Peter O’Mahony had the last laugh and was on hand, with Keith Earls, to raise the URC trophy after Munster’s win.
As for Mark Keohane, he was left calling Munster “legends” and tapping into his Cork heritage.
What an occasion @CapeTown #DHLStadium 56 000. @THESTORMERS be proud @Munsterrugby legends … to win on such a night ❤️ I must confess to tapping into #Cork & the #Keohane heritage. If we were going to lose what made it OK was who we lost to. Much love. pic.twitter.com/vzAj8TBiyp
— Mark Keohane (@mark_keohane) May 28, 2023
There was a late Munster try – Keohane was right on that – but it was the match-winner from John Hodnett.
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY HERE:
- “We did it the hard way” – Munster stun Stormers to claim United Rugby Championship title
- ‘ROG never got his big send-off… Johnny Sexton will be in a bus, heading down Grafton Street!’
- Gregory Alldritt deftly deals with Stuart Barnes question on Ireland’s World Cup hopes
- Brian O’Driscoll believes Paul O’Connell, not Ronan O’Gara, will coach Ireland next
- Peter O’Mahony with two best jokes of the night at the Rugby Players Ireland awards