DHL Stormers flashback: Late show sinks Ulster

PUBLISHED: March 28, 2024

The DHL Stormers scripted a dramatic comeback to break Ulster hearts with a last-gasp win in a thrilling 2021/22 Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-final at DHL Stadium.

Flyhalf Manie Libbok, who finished the inaugural Vodacom URC campaign as the top point-scorer, held his nerve to slot a match-winning conversion as the DHL Stormers snatched victory over Ulster in Cape Town to advance to the Grand Final against SA rivals, the Vodacom Bulls.

From an attacking scrum, the DHL Stormers took the ball through the phases before Libbok found Warrick Gelant in space out wide with a looping pass and the fullback was left with the simple task of running it in.

In Round 14, the DHL Stormers edged Ulster 23-20, and the rematch in the semis – which marked former DHL Stormers skipper Duane Vermeulen’s second visit to DHL Stadium with Ulster – again ended in a result that favoured the hosts.

In the semi-final, Ulster held a five-point lead until deep into injury time of a monumental battle. The DHL Stormers’ early dominance, including tries from hooker JJ Kotze and No 8 Evan Roos, was countered by Ulster’s response through Rob Baloucoune and Stewart Moore, with the visitors leading by five points at half time.

As the clock ticked down, the DHL Stormers were reduced to 14 men when replacement lock Adre Smith received a red card. Galvanised by the adversity, the DHL Stormers intensified their attack.

Ulster’s resilient defence withstood immense pressure until the hosts drew level with Gelant’s score in the 84th minute and Libbok’s touchline conversion after the final whistle.

This nail-biting triumph encapsulated the DHL Stormers’ remarkable season under Head Coach John Dobson, culminating in the final a week later when captain Steven Kitshoff lifted the trophy in front of their loyal fans after beating the Vodacom Bulls.