Ulster have late winning try controversially ruled out in Cape Town

Their impressive run of seven straight wins comes to an end away to the Stomers

The Ulster team after their 23-20 defeat to the Stomers in Cape Town. Photograph: EJ Langer/Inpho

Stormers 23 Ulster 20

Ulster’s impressive run of seven straight wins came to an end in Cape Town, but only after having impressively fought back from an early 14-0 deficit before having a late Callum Reid score, which would have won the game, controversially ruled out for an apparent separation when in the act of scoring.

It was frustrating for Dan McFarland’s squad who scored tries in either half from Marty Moore and Stuart McCloskey and created enough opportunities to win but, instead, take a losing bonus point to altitude for next weekend’s meeting with the Bulls.

The Stormers’ scored off their first attack when Craig Gilroy’s kick-chase of a Billy Burns’ bomb ended up in the hands Warrick Gelant and in the blink of an eye, the Stomers countered, with Leolin Zas breaking John Cooney’s tackle and giving Paul de Wet what proved to be the scoring pass from long range.


Manie Libbok converted the second minute score and he did so again when, four minutes later, Zas was put away with ease.

Ulster's first visit to the Stormers 22 was begun by a Michael Lowry dummy and break only for the fullback, from his second carry in the attack, to be turned over at the breakdown where the home side were already dominant.

But Ulster battled back and after a third penalty won in the Stormers’ 22 was put to the corner, former Stormers squad member Rob Herring drove off the back of a maul and after a carry from Burns, Marty Moore barrelled over the line on 21 minutes with Cooney converting.

The breakdown again featured five minutes later when a great Lowry catch ended up with him wrapped up by Deon Fourie with Libbok slotting the penalty.

Just after the half hour, Fourie was pinged at a breakdown allowing Cooney to cut the Stormers’ lead to seven.

Then with three minutes left in the half, Ulster were awarded a scrum penalty when Frans Malherbe was penalised for a collapse, allowing Cooney to slot the shot at goal to make it just 17-13 to the South Africans with two minutes left.

That didn’t last long as with the clock in red, Ulster were done at another breakdown and Libbok did the needful to make it 20-13 to the hosts at the turnaround.

Ulster opened the new half brightly enough but failed to score after Seabelo Senatla knocked on over the line and, shortly afterwards, the Stormers’ winger was very lucky to stay on after appearing to make contact with Lowry’s head as the fullback dipped into the contact.

Late surge

A minute after Libbok’s 54th minute penalty had made it 23-13, a double-hit from Herring and another ex-Stormer Duane Vermeulen saw Ulster kick a penalty to the corner and with a rapid penalty advantage coming their way from the following lineout, Stuart McCloskey took a direct route and smashed through to score.

Cooney’s conversion cut the lead to just three points, but further progress was stymied by a combination of Ulster errors and the Stormers’ scramble defence.

Then with three minutes to go, Ulster thought they had the winning score when Callum Reid crossed the line after a penalty had been put to the corner and Tom Stewart had driven clear.

However, Hacjivah Dayimani’s hand was seen to have dislodged the ball forward from Reid’s grasp and after much debate between referee Gianluca Gnecchi and the TMO the score was ruled out and the scrum awarded to the hosts much to the anger of skipper Alan O’Connor on his 150th appearance.

Stormers: W Gelant; S Senatla, R Nel, D Willemse, L Zas; M Libbok, P de Wet; S Kitshoff (capt), C Solomon, F Malherbe; A Smith, M Orie; D Fourie, E van Rhyn, E Roos.

Replacements: N Fouche for Malherbe (42 mins), H Dayimani for Roos and J Pokomela for Fourie (both 54 mins), H Jantjies for De Wet and JJ Kotze for Solomon (both 58 mins), B Harris for Kitshoff (64 mins), R Pretorius for Willemse (70 mins).

Ulster: M Lowry; C Gilroy, S Moore, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore; A O'Connor (capt), K Treadwell; G Jones, Marcus Rea, D Vermeulen.

Replacements: J Murphy for Jones (19 mins), C Reid for O’Sullivan, G Milasinovich for Moore and E McIlroy for Gilroy (all 55 mins), L Marshall for Moore (64 mins), T Stewart for Herring (69 mins), D Shanahan for Cooney (75 mins), M Kearney for Treadwell (76 mins) .

Referee: G Gnecchi (Italy).