URC result: Yellow cards cost Stormers in Connacht defeat

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The Stormers fell away in the second half of their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against Connacht at The Sportsground in Galway on Saturday, going down 19-17 in a match that just as well could have gone their way.

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The Stormers held a 17-7 lead early in the second half, but yellow cards to Sergeal Petersen for a deliberate knock-down and Ruhan Nel for a high tackle cost them dearly as the home side scored twice in that time to edge ahead and stay ahead.

The Cape side still had a chance to seal the deal after the hooter with a promising attack, but a forward pass ruined that opportunity and they left the field two points shy of a win.

The first half was a tight affair. Strong winds in Galway created havoc affecting the kickers and handling of both sides in the early stages. Connacht enjoyed most of the early running and twice the visitors secured crucial breakdown turnovers near their own line to keep their Irish hosts at bay.

The Stormers had a late change to their backline formation with Dan du Plessis pulling out. Damian Willemse moved to inside centre, Petersen to fullback and Angelo Davids was elevated from the bench into the starting wing position.

The rearranged backline struck the moment when they were put in a position to do so. Petersen scored 16 minutes in following a pass from Willemse, but to be fair, much of the spade work was done by the forwards. Deon Fourie ran hard from a line-out and when they breached the Connacht 25, they did not stop until Petersen fell over the line without a defender to stop him.

Connacht, with the wind behind them, continued the territorial advantage they had before the Stormers worked their way into their red zone and it was a good reward for them when No 8 Paul Boyle was driven over the line after a number of drives were stopped short of the Cape side’s line.

The converted try hand them a 7-5 lead after 30 minutes of play.

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It was the Stormers who regained the lead just before the break though, albeit in some lucky circumstances. After keeping out the Irish with some solid defence, Manie Libbok hoisted the ball high with Petersen in pursuit. No Connacht player committed to the swirling ball and Petersen hacked ahead, regathered and when he was caught just before the line, he popped to Willemse who brushed aside two defenders for score.

Libbok’ s conversion was blown away, but at least his side were up at the break.

The flyhalf struck early in the second half. Six minutes in, Connacht came around the corner with a lineout attack, but the ball was spilled and in a flash, Libbok was racing towards the tryline. He was not overhauled and when he converted his first try of the competition, the SA side were 17-7 up.

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The never say die attitude of Connacht shone brightly though. They kept attacking and after being called back once for a knock-on, and they struck with Petersen off the field, following a deliberate knock-down.

The men in green attacked and used their numbers, and centre Tom Daly scored under the sticks. The conversion by Conor Fitzgerald was good and suddenly the home side were back in it, trailing by three with 20 minutes to play.

Yellow cards proved too costly for Stormers

Nel was yellow carded for a high tackle with 13 minutes left to play, just as the Stormers returned to full numbers again. The home side again benefitted from that and scored a try in the corner with Peter Sullivan barely reaching the line before losing control, but the TMO was happy with the try. That pushed Connacht ahead for the second time in the match with seven minutes left to play.

The Stormers attacked with real intent, but it was not be to for the visitors.

SCORERS:

Connacht

Tries: Paul Boyle, Tom Daly, Peter Sullivan

Conversions: Conor Fitzgerald (2)

Stormers

Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok

Conversion: Libbok

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