Ulster lament blunt showing in Cape Town defeat

Ulster created plenty of chances in the second half but failed to score a single point during that period.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

DAN MCFARLAND BEMOANED Ulster’s errant second-half performance in the United Rugby Championship semi-final loss to the Stormers on Saturday.

Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok kicked a conversion after the full-time hooter to give the Cape franchise a 17-15 win over Ulster on Saturday. The upshot is that the Stormers – rather than Ulster – have earned the right to host the Bulls in the URC final next week.

Ulster conceded two early tries, but hit back with two of their own to take a 15-10 lead into half-time. While Ulster created plenty of chances in the second half, they failed to score a single point during that period.

“We lost the game in the third quarter,” a visibly disappointed McFarland said afterwards.

“We had momentum and a bit of territory, but we just couldn’t score.

“I was happy with the officiating today – they did a good job. That didn’t cost us this game on this occasion,” the Ulster coach added, in reference to the league match at Cape Town Stadium where the Irish side was denied in controversial circumstances.

Ulster won a series of penalties during the third quarter deep in Stormers territory. Had they opted to kick at goal, they may have extended their lead at the time to eight points – and taken control of the game.

Instead, they continued to back their lineout and maul in the quest for a five- or seven-pointer.

“The maul was going well for us – and had gone well for us all season,” said Ulster captain Iain Henderson.

“It’s easier to say we should have taken the three points… sitting here now, it would have been lovely to have those three points.

“We created chances, but we didn’t capitalise due to small errors. On another day, we would have come out of that situation with five or seven points.”

The Bulls beat Leinster in Dublin on Friday to qualify for the URC final. They will travel back to South Africa and play the Stormers at the Cape Town Stadium in the decider.

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“Playing at home, the Stormers can definitely win it,” said McFarland.

“The Bulls are probably sitting in Belfast wishing we’d won, so that they wouldn’t have to travel back to South Africa.

“It’s going to be an exciting final between two well rounded teams. I won’t be watching it, though.”

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