Manie Libbok held his nerve to slot a match-winning conversion as the Stormers snatched a Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-final victory over Ulster in Cape Town on Saturday to set up a home final against the Vodacom Bulls.
The 17-15 win, earned with Libboks’ conversion of Warrick Gelant’s try after the hooter, handed the Stormers an all-South African URC grand finale against the Bulls in Cape Town next weekend.
For so long, it looked like this would be the end of the road for the Capetonians as Ulster produced an incredible defensive performance after taking a 15-10 lead into the break.
It should be noted that the Stormers could have made it far easier for themselves, if they had taken their shots at goal. The home side turned down penalty after penalty, perhaps seduced by the scoreboard and it so nearly backfired in spectacular fashion.
As it happened, the pressure eventually told as, from a scrum five metres from the tryline, the Stormers took the ball through the phases, before Libbok found Gelant in space out wide with a looping pass and the fullback was left with the simple task of running it in.
⚡ Dramatic scenes in Cape Town! @THESTORMERS snuck in with the last play of the game against @UlsterRugby to secure a home @Vodacom #URC final next weekend – match report: https://t.co/FJXU98XBhc@URCOfficial_RSA pic.twitter.com/4c20qvlglf
— Springboks (@Springboks) June 11, 2022
The hosts had a bright start to the game, opening up an early 10-0 lead through tries from JJ Kotze and Evan Roos. However, Ulster quickly fired back via a controversial try from wing Rob Baloucoune, where the final pass was clearly forward from fullback Stewart Moore. Scrumhalf John Cooney then slotted a penalty to give the visitors the lead at half time.
Ulster spent much of the second half on the back foot as they repelled wave after wave of Stormers attack. It seemed that the frustration would get the better of the Stormers as Adre Smith was sent off for an eye gouge on Iain Henderson with 10 minutes to play.
However, the Stormers managed to hold out against a multi-phase Ulster attack and worked their way back upfield through a break from Seabelo Senatla. From there, they won a couple of penalties, Gelant scored and Libbok converted for the win.
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) June 11, 2022