Manie Libbok kicked a sideline conversion of Warrick Gelant’s 85th minute try to give the Stormers a 17-15 United Rugby Championship semifinal win against Ulster at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The victory means the Stormers will host the final at the same venue, against the Bulls, who beat Leinster in Dublin on Friday.
In a thrilling match, with the only second half points coming late on, the Stormers were reduced to playing with 14 men for the final 15 minutes after replacement Adre Smith was red-carded.
For long periods, the Stormers were dominated by the visitors, who defended brilliantly at times and asked plenty questions with ball in hand.
The match will also be remembered for a number of strange refereeing decisions, which seemed to go against the Stormers, leaving many of the players questioning the referee.
The home team though, while seemingly out of the contest as the clock ticked towards the 80th minute, found some extra puff at the death, with Libbok throwing the long pass to Gelant to score, and then kick the conversion.
Fast Stormers start
In a thrilling start to the match, home team hooker JJ Kotze went over as early as the fourth minute, from a driving maul after Libbok had found touch from a penalty.
And just 10 minutes later the Stormers were 10-0 up and in charge after a great bit of interplay down the blindside of a lineout between Evan Roos and Herschel Jantjies led to the promising Roos going over for a try.
Ulster hit back
Ulster though came back strongly, with some good hands at the back leading to wing Rob Baloucoune going over in the corner, though TV replays suggested he’d been on the receiving end of a forward pass. The match officials didn’t think so, saying the pass was “flat”.
And then more good handling at the back, with Baloucoune making a great off-load, ended with fullback Stewart Moore going over, the conversion giving the visitors to Cape Town a 12-10 lead. And by half-time it was 15-10 after a John Cooney penalty.
There were few try-scoring chances in the second period, until the very end, with Smith’s red-card, for “hands in the face and eye area” of an Ulster player, the most note-worthy talking point – until the last minutes of the match, which saw the Stormers home.
Stormers: Tries: Kotze, Roos, Gelant; Conversion: Libbok
Ulster: Tries: Baloucoune, Moore; Conversion: Cooney; Penalty: Cooney