By Lucky Maree
As always in the United Rugby Championship, the home team has a massive advantage.
The wind will make the posts at the RDS Arena swing like palm trees in the breeze, at best the temperature will be about 6c and it will rain.
We will, however, see a Stormers side as good as probably any we’ve seen in the URC this year. Leinster have rested their Six Nations winning Ireland team members, prompting the Irish commentator to say, “A supposedly weakened Leinster team, if there is such a thing.”
They’re an impartial lot the Irish, aren’t they?
For the first eight minutes it’s all Stormers and they lead by three points after a penalty right in front of the posts. If Manie Libbok is panicking it doesn’t show.
After 17 minutes Manie Libbok misses a drop goal from right in front of the posts. Nothing to worry about, is there?
On 21 minutes Libbok makes amends in grand style. He makes a try out of nothing with a dummy and a sidestep that would confuse the best flankers in the world.
The Stormers have now scored twice, but the rain is now more than a drizzle.
Leinster spend a minute or two in the Stormers danger zone, but never cross the advantage line.
To the jeers and boos of the Irish crowd (for reasons that are not immediately obvious), Manie Libbok picks up a loose ball, runs the length of the field and passes to Suleiman Hartzenberg who scores under the poles.
Three minutes before halftime, Leinster spend a long time right on the Stormers tryline, until on the stroke of halftime, prop Michael Milne scores the try for Leinster. The Stormers are good value for their 5-17 lead.
With the wind now behind their backs, Leinster starts the half strongly and Scott Penny makes it look easy as he scores from the first phase line out ball.
Leinster are relentless at kicking with the wind driving the Stormers right back to their own posts and leaving the Stormers very few exit options.
Against the run of play, great work by Steven Kitshoff sees eighthman Hacjivah Dayimani running the length of the field but the promising movement is stopped inches from the Leinster line.
Rob Russell crosses the line after massive pressure on the Stormers backs. Leinster are only two points behind and there are still 25 minutes to go.
When the Stormers can least afford it, referee Sam Grove hands Hartzenberg a yellow card and Leinster immediately score. They lead by five points and they have the bonus point try.
With 12 minutes to go, the Stormers show enormous character by playing themselves back into the game and when Clayton Blommetjies scores in the corner the scores are locked at 22-22.
Flyhalf Harry Byrne has an opportunity to clinch the game for Leinster. With the wind in his favour he takes what should be an easy penalty, the ball hits the upright.
The scores remain tied until the final hooter. For once a draw seems like a victory.
Leinster (4 tries) 22-22 (3 try) Stormers.
Pictured above: Stormers taking on Leinster
Image source: Stormers