Steve Haag Sports/Thinus Maritz/INPHO Mack Hansen's try gave Connacht an early lead, but Stormers were ruthless in punishing their mistakes.
Connacht Bow Out

'We created something really special... that fighting spirit, that’s the DNA of this team'

Connacht were left to rue their missed opportunity after pushing Stormers close in the URC semi-finals.

CAPTAIN JACK CARTY believes that Connacht built “something special” this season and were ultimately undone by their own individual mistakes in the United Rugby Championship semi-final against the Stormers.

Connacht controlled the semi-final for long periods but were overtaken in the latter stages by a more clinical Stormers side.

“It’s a missed opportunity,” a disappointed Andy Friend said. “The Stormers were nervous from the outset, and we really put ourselves in with a chance.

“You have to commend the effort, but you also don’t want to be happy with a result like that. I’d say the better team won the game, but it still hurts that we had the chance and didn’t take it.”

On the conditions, Friend added: “You might say that we are from Galway and we should be used to a strong wind like that but it was swirling. In any case, it wasn’t so much the wind that was a factor as the execution of the tactics.

“We made too many errors in a game where one error can prove costly.”

Carty also lamented the soft moments by his side that allowed the Stormers to keep hitting back.

“It’s pretty quiet in the change room after that result,” the Connacht captain confirmed.

“Look, it’s been my most enjoyable season to date. We created something really special. There was a balance between enjoyment and the fact that you are doing a job. That led us to this semi-final – and unfortunately we just couldn’t finish it off tonight.

“That fighting spirit… that’s the DNA of this team. We want to play for each other, and we showed that across the season, and especially in the quarter-final against Ulster. We showed it at times against the Stormers, but there were unfortunately too many individual errors.

“We felt that our kicking game was working early on,” Carty added. “We created separation between their forwards and backs, and were moving them around well. But at times we kicked poorly or too long, and you can’t do that against a team that has such a good back three.”

Carty’s opposite number Manie Libbok scored two of the Stormers’ six tries, and finished the game with a personal tally of 23 points. Unsurprisingly, Libbok was named Player of the Match.

“He’s an incredible player who kicks off both feet,” Carty observed. “He’s a joy to watch really, with his range of skills. Unfortunately for us, he had a big impact for the Stormers tonight.”

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