Devastated DHL Stormers Determined To Hunt Down Munster


Driven by the agony of last season’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final defeat at their fortress in Cape Town, the DHL Stormers are determined to hunt down Munster in Saturday’s rematch in Limerick.

Munster wrote themselves into rugby folklore by ending the DHL Stormers’ record-winning run at DHL Stadium in April, before the Red Army returned to Cape Town a month later to dethrone the defending champions and win their first major silverware since 2011.

The pain of surrendering their title in front of 50 000-plus locals was etched onto the DHL Stormers’ faces after the full-time whistle in the Grand Final.

On Saturday, the DHL Stormers will have the opportunity to find a kind of closure by avenging one of their most heart-rending defeats when they sprint onto Thomond Park.

“Losing the Grand Final to Munster is still painful,” said veteran DHL Stormers hooker Scarra Ntubeni. “The emotion will come later in the week but now it is about having a proper plan and us working through it. That’s the main thing. After winning the Vodacom URC in the first season we had a target on our backs; now Munster have a target on theirs.

“We’ll be chasing them, hunting them and revenge will be in the back of our mind.”

When these giants faced off in the decider, the collision between two sets of seismic forwards registered on the Richter scale.

While the DHL Stormers have bid farewell to Ulster-bound captain Steven Kitshoff and are without a couple of Springbok veterans, the pack still boasts quality from numbers one to eight.

Ntubeni has highlighted this week’s challenge as an opportunity for the heavies to underline their reputation as one of the dominant packs in the Vodacom URC, as they face a Munster side that is getting stronger with returning stars of Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign.

“We’re going to be playing some internationals this weekend, especially in the forward pack,” he said. “We’re really proud as forwards and we’ve let ourselves down a bit lately.

“We’ve tried over the past few seasons to be one of the better packs, and there’s a lot of pressure on us to pull through for the backs.”

Both teams are coming into this match off the back of losses in round four.

Munster suffered a hard-fought derby defeat to Ulster, while the DHL Stormers were denied by Benetton in Treviso.

Prior to jetting off on a four-week tour, John Dobson targeted a win in Italy in a bid to arrive at Thomond Park with the momentum and confidence.

“We wanted to go to Munster on the front foot, not the back foot. The defeat against Benetton is extremely disappointing,” Dobson said after the loss in Treviso.

“We needed this win. It was one of the wins we wanted on tour, so it is hugely disappointing for us. It puts a lot of pressure on, but we have been in these positions before and we do fight back.”

The DHL Stormers have yet to lose three games in a row since joining the Vodacom URC and it will require something special to get a first ever win against Munster.

The hosts will want to rebound in front of the Red Army after suffering a first loss since starting that incredible run of away victories in last season’s penultimate league game in Cape Town.

Factor in a bit of extra intensity generated by the memories of battles lost and won in the 2022-23 Grand Final and the scene has been set for a classic showdown.