Stormers in impressive victory over audacious Ulster
The Stormers overcame a thrilling final minute to secure a 23-20 win over Ulster in their battle for the United Rugby Championship at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
With regulations relaxed to allow 50 per cent stadium capacity, Stormers welcomed more fans with a strong first half of rugby. The second half, however, was very different.
While Ulster – who trailed newspaper leader Leinster by one point at the start of the clash – looked organized going into the clash, it was the Stormers who did the most when they put the hand on the ball by scoring two tries in five minutes. lead 14-0 in the seventh minute.
After taking possession of his own half, winger Leolin Zas made a superb break and held his pass just long enough to draw in a defender and open space for scrum-half Paul de Wet to sneak in for the opening of the score. The opening half Manie Libbok chained the transformation (7-0).
Zas went from setter to try scorer when he ran into his own minutes later after the home side played him beautifully wide to find the winger nearly touched down. Libbok wasn’t wrong with this one either as he took John Dobson’s unit by double figures (14-0).
Ulster had to work hard for their first points at the start of the second quarter. It took three mauls in a row for the big Irish to finally cross the line that counts thanks to Marty Moore. Scrum half John Cooney added extras (14-7).
Deon Fourie did what he does best around the half hour mark after Damian Willemse put up a good fight in the air before Fourie did his thing on the ground which allowed Libbok to add three more points to the tally hosts (17-7).
Cooney kicked in a penalty minutes later and closed the gap again after Ulster were awarded a scrum penalty past the posts (17-13), but Stormers had the last laugh in the first half when Libbok scored a second penalty (20-13).
It took some time before the scoreboard was changed in the second half, and the Stormers were first with the points after Libbok added his third penalty in the 53rd minute (23-13).
The storyline changed in the third quarter as Ulster began to have more control, albeit in a rather messy second half.
They were rewarded when inside center Stuart McCloskey made his second try after going past a few missed tackles. Cooney hit his target to make it a three-point game (23-20).
The visitors threatened to score early in the final quarter but solid work from the Stormers forwards stopped what looked like a certain try.
It looked like Ulster were close to breaking Stormers hearts with a 78th-minute try, but the referee ruled the ball had been hit with the ground.
From there Libbok kicked for the touch, and while Ulster walked away with the ball in the ensuing lineout, Stormers won a turnover and kicked the ball in to claim victory over Ulster in their first ever meeting.
Stormers — 23: Tries: Paul de Wet, Leolin Zas Conversions: Manie Libbok (2) Penalties: Libbok (3)
Ulster — 20: Tries: Marty Moore, Stuart McCloskey Conversions: John Cooney (2) Penalties: Cooney (2). – iol.co.za