Stormers back Libbok to bounce back after kicking horror show: ‘He can come right at any time’

Stormers back Libbok to bounce back after kicking horror show: 'He can come right at any time'
Stormers back Libbok to bounce back after kicking horror show: 'He can come right at any time'

Africa-Press – South-Africa. The Stormers brains trust won’t be too hard on flyhalf Manie Libbok after his goal-kicking horror show against Munster on Saturday night.

That was the message from coach John Dobson and captain Steven Kitshoff after the Stormers went down 26-24 to Munster at Cape Town Stadium.

The Stormers now sit third on the overall URC standings – one point behind Ulster with a final round of regular season fixtures remaining.

The Stormers face Italian side Benetton in Stellenbosch next Friday and will hope Ulster slip up at home against Edinburgh later that evening.

Both teams are vying for second spot on the log as it will assure a home semi-final if they advance past the quarter-finals.

If they had beaten Munster, the Stormers’ fate would have been in their own hands, but an error-prone performance saw them lose at home for the first time since December 2021.

The Capetonians had notched 19 straight wins at home since losing to the Lions about a year and a half ago.

Libbok’s goal-kicking proved vital as the Stormers No 10 missed no fewer than five kicks at goal. Four of those kicks were relatively straightforward and Libbok’s confidence appeared shot at the end of the game.

In the post-game press conference, Kitshoff said the goal kicking issue was a tough conversion to have with his flyhalf.

“It’s difficult to be honest. I think he knows it’s his job… my job is to scrum and set mauls and his job is to kick to posts. So, it’s difficult to just try and boost his confidence, ask him to work a bit harder with Gareth (Wright, kicking coach) … to almost try and sort out and find a solution for his kicking.

“But to actually hammer down onto him is probably not the right call, that might damage his confidence even further.”

Despite Libbok’s kicking woes, Kitshoff backed his Springbok team-mate to find his groove in time for the URC playoffs.

“Yes, it was a bad day kicking to posts but he’s a hard worker and he’s got a massive work-rate and a good work ethic. So, I truly believe he’ll have a hard look in the mirror and try and fix it, especially for the last couple of games of the season.”

Dobson also backed Libbok to regain his form, pointing to his heroics last year when he kicked a last-gasp conversion to win the game in the semi-finals against Ulster.

When asked whether they pondered giving Damian Willemse the goal-kicking responsibilities, Dobson said it “didn’t cross my mind”.

“When we played that semi-final against Ulster (last year), Manie missed a few kicks and then slotted the one from the corner (to win the game). That’s the thing with Manie, he can come right at any time.”

The Stormers trailed 12-0 midway through the first half but fought their way back into the contest to go into half-time at level pegging (12-12).

They dominated just before the break and camped in the Munster 22m area for the opening 10 minutes after the break. But the hosts lost two five metre lineouts while resolute Munster defence also kept them at bay.

This proved a turning point in momentum as Munster regained their composure and soon regained control.

“We had them on the ropes and we just kept letting them off,” Dobson rued. “We lost two lineouts. I think if we got that penalty (Libbok’s miss) just after half-time we would have gotten 10 points in the space of three playing minutes… it would have been brilliant.

“And then we go and we get two five-metre lineouts and we end up not converting. That period killed us I think. We had them absolutely on the ropes there at the start of the second half.”

Kitshoff agreed with his coach, saying they should have cashed in more on their period of dominance just before and after half-time.

“I think it was probably our best 20 minutes of the game. It was quite draining because the guys worked so hard to get into those positions. It’s tough, after a couple of penalties you expect a yellow card but it just didn’t happen and they got away with a turnover there towards the end. So, it does drain you and it feels like you’re going nowhere.

“But credit to the guys, they kept on fighting but a couple of decisions went against us and [there were] a couple of mistakes from our side that cost us this game,” the skipper said.

For More News And Analysis About South-Africa Follow Africa-Press


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here