|11 June 2022||2:00 pm||United Rugby Championship||2021/22|
Ulster saw their hopes of a home final in the United Rugby Championship come to an end as the Ulstermen lost 17-15 away at the Stormers.
The visitors were on the verge of victory, but a last ditch try from Warrick Gelant and a late conversion from Manie Libbok earning the Stormers victory in what was a nail-biter at Newlands Stadium.
It was a gut-wrenching defeat for the visitors, who had defended valiantly for 80 minutes but couldn’t hold on at the death. Tiredness crept into the visitors game late into the afternoon in Cape Town, but Ulster fought bravely and repelled the hosts on two occasions late on, but Gelant’s score ended all hopes of a second league final in three seasons.
As for the visitors, they host the Bulls next weekend at the Newlands in the final. However, their win came at a price as they lost influential winger Leolin Zas to injury in the first half and saw second-row Adre Smith red-carded for an eye gouge on Iain Henderson.
Like the previous meeting between the two sides the Stormers started quickly and scored within the opening five minutes as JJ Kotze powered over from the back of a driving maul.
It didn’t take long for John Dobson’s side to increase their advantage as Evan Roos raced in for the Stormers second of the afternoon.
However, Ulster responded emphatically as Robert Baloucoune crashed over in the corner to reduce the deficit to five. Dan McFarland’s men looked to have found their groove as they grabbed their second not long after. A great offload from Baloucoune released Stewart Moore for the team’s second of the match. John Cooney’s conversion put Ulster into their first lead of the day.
Cooney stretched out the lead further as he slotted over a penalty just before the break. Kicking appeared to be the difference in the first half as Libbok missed two conversions and a drop goal, leaving seven points on the table.
Ulster started the second period well, but suffered a massive blow as Baloucoune exited with a hip injury and began to toil in attack. McFarland’s team wasted two driving mauls deep inside the Stormers 22 and conceded two turnovers in a prime attacking position.
Nevertheless, all hope looked to have evaporated as Smith was red-carded for his gouge on Henderson, leaving the visitors with a numerical advantage in the final ten minutes.
However, it mattered not as the Stormers dominated possession and after several phases found the whitewash through the Racing 92 bound Gellant before Libbok iced the game with his first points of the match.
|Cape Town Stadium|
|Cape Town Stadium, South Forecourt, Cape Town Ward 115, Cape Town, City of Cape Town, Western Cape, 8005, South Africa|