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Stormers claim first Champions Cup win

By PA
Leolin Zas of DHL Stormers celebrates scoring a try with teammates during the Heineken Champions Cup match between DHL Stormers and London Irish at DHL Cape Town Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

London Irish suffered a second defeat in two Heineken Champions Cup Pool B matches as they were beaten 34-14 by the Stormers at DHL Stadium.

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Declan Kidney’s men, who opened their campaign with a 32-27 defeat to Montpellier, were 24-0 down in Cape Town when they got off the mark through Michael Willemse’s 50th-minute try.

Irish’s subsequent efforts to battle back saw Will Joseph also cross, and he and Ben White each had tries disallowed via the television match official, before John Dobson’s Stormers wrapped up what is their first ever victory in the competition.

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The Stormers took the lead eight minutes into the contest when Willie Engelbrecht drove over, with Manie Libbok adding the conversion.

As Irish looked to hit back, Ben Loader broke forward but was thwarted by a great Deon Fourie tackle just before making the try line.

Two minutes later the hosts thought they had extended their lead with Salmaan Moerat finishing off a fine team move, but the effort was disallowed by the TMO for a forward pass.

Libbok then added a simple penalty to put the Stormers 10-0 up in the closing stages of the first half, before two tries in quick succession early in the second put the United Rugby Championship title-holders in a really strong position.

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Irish were punished as Joe Powell misjudged his attempt to catch a high ball and Leolin Zas handed it to Hacjivah Dayimani, who sprinted home. Zas then added a try of his own moments later, with Libbok converting on both occasions.

Soon after, Irish got points on the board as a rolling maul allowed Willemse to touch down, with Paddy Jackson nailing the conversion.

Libbok put the Stormers 20 points ahead again with another penalty on the hour mark, before further Irish pressure saw replacement White cross, only for the TMO to rule he had lost the ball when tackled by Angelo Davids.

Irish continued to press and Joseph touched down in the 73rd minute, with Jackson converting, then appeared to add another try four minutes later – but again the TMO intervened and it was disallowed for a push by the centre.

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The Stormers subsequently secured a bonus point in the final seconds as Junior Pokomela registered their fourth try, Libbok again converting.

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