Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

URC result: Stormers edge Ulster after late second-half show

The second half was a complete reversal as the Stormers enjoyed more possession and territory.

It was a tale of two halves for the Stormers after they fought back from a 7-0 half-time deficit to edge Ulster 13-7 in an incredibly scrappy United Rugby Championship (URC) arm wrestle at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.

The first half belonged fully to the visitors who dominated possession and territory but somehow only went into the break leading by a single converted try, after some desperate defence from the hosts.

The second half was a complete reversal as the Stormers enjoyed more possession and territory, giving them a host of chances which they mostly butchered, but they ultimately did enough to get the valuable win over one of their playoff rivals.

Strong start

Ulster got off to a strong start and were rewarded with the opening score in the eighth minute when on attack in the Stormers half. The ball was passed to eighthman Nick Timoney to run through a huge hole in the defence to go over for the converted score.

Despite having their backs against the wall the Stormers had two chances to get on the board with long range penalties in front, only for flyhalf Manie Libbok to pull both shots to the left in the 21st and 23rd minutes to keep them scoreless.

Ulster were still the bigger attacking threat, while the Stormers defence held firm as the half wore on, but it was scrappy play from both with a number of handling errors robbing both sides of chances to gain ascendancy.

It was then the turn of Ulster scrumhalf John Cooney to miss some easy shots at goal, hitting a penalty from in front in the 28th minute off the post, before missing a long-range chance from in front in the 37th which left the score 7-0 at the break.

The Stormers came out in the second half looking much better, but they missed a few chances to score as eighthman Evan Roos knocked on just short of the line twice, allowing Ulster to hold on to their lead.

Malherbe v Kitshoff

The hosts finally got their first points of the match in the 54th minute after Springbok teammates Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff went head-to-head for the first time in the scrum after Malherbe came on as a substitute.

Malherbe got the better of his former Stormers teammate, earning the penalty dead in front for Libbok to pop it over to make it 7-3.

Ulster flank David McCann was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after cynically slapping the ball out of replacement scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies’ hands at a ruck in the 61st minute.

This allowed the Stormers to kick a penalty into the corner, only to lose their own lineout throw, allowing Ulster to clear.

With time ticking away the game was becoming exceedingly frantic with both teams throwing caution to the wind in the closing moments.

The Stormers earned a penalty in front in the 73rd minute, but chose to go to the corner and were massively rewarded as they set a monster maul and powered over for Roos to score, with Libbok nailing the touchline conversion to put them 10-7 ahead with five minutes to go.

Stormers replacement hooker JJ Kotze still had time to produce a spectacular highlight reel 50/22 kick after lock Ruben van Heerden stole an Ulster lineout in the home side’s half.

This gave them territory in the visitors’ 22m and allowed them to eventually earn a late scrum penalty for Libbok to knock over and seal the win.


Stormers: Try – Evan Roos; Conversion – Manie Libbok; Penalties – Libbok (2)

Ulster: Try – Nick Timoney; Conversion – John Cooney

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