This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018

Late Speight try earns dramatic draw on top of bonus point for Ulster against Cheetahs

Dan McFarland’s men left Bloemfontein with three points after a 10-try thriller.

Image: Frikkie Kapp/INPHO

Cheetahs 39

Ulster 39

Adam McKendry reports from Bloemfontein

HENRY SPEIGHT’S LAST minute try rescued a draw for Ulster in Bloemfontein as they shared three points with the Toyota Cheetahs in a thrilling 39-39 draw.

Both sides notched five tries in the back-and-forth tie that looked to have gotten away from the visitors when Rabz Maxwane crossed late on, but the Irish province refused to give in and maintained their unbeaten run with the late score.

It means Ulster extend their lead in Conference B to four points overnight after the result, which sends them home from their South African trip with seven points to show for it.

Ulster lost Craig Gilroy in captain’s run the day before, then suffered a further blow when they lost full-back Will Addison in the warm-up, and to make matters worse, they were behind after 100 seconds.

Off first phase ball from a lineout, centre Nico Lee picked the perfect line through a gaping hole in Ulster’s defence and his inside pass found flanker Gerhard Olivier, who took it the rest of the way.

But within a minute, Ulster had responded, late inclusion Darren Cave the man to scythe his way through the Cheetahs lacklustre defence and give inside to the supporting David Shanahan for the score.

Billy Burns Source: Frikkie Kapp/INPHO


Ulster then lost another man to injury when Wiehahn Herbst was forced off, and they fell behind again when Tian Schoeman sent over a penalty in the 19th minute.

But having spent so much time defending in their own 22, suddenly Ulster found themselves under the posts again when Stuart McCloskey rode a tackle and put Cave through, his inside pass again putting Shanahan over in a carbon copy of their first.

Peter Nelson had to be alert to protect Ulster’s lead when Tian Meyer broke through, the scrum-half chipping in behind but beaten to the ball by the full-back, however the Cheetahs wouldn’t have long to wait for their score.

It came when Rabz Maxwane charged through the broken field defence, with Ulster unable to lay a hand on him, and he set William Small-Smith through under the posts for the interval lead.

Benhard Janse van Rensburg and David Shanahan Benhard Janse van Rensburg breaks from David Shanahan. Source: Frikkie Kapp/INPHO

That lead lasted all of five minutes after the restart, however, as a great kick in behind from Nelson gave Ulster some good field position, from which Burns kicked them level from a penalty.

But it wouldn’t be tied for long as the Cheetahs began to flex their forward muscles at the maul and, after Alan O’Connor saw yellow for repeated offences at the set piece, Joseph Dweba capitalised on the man advantage by piloting the next maul over the line.

Burns immediately struck back with his second penalty of the night, but the South Africans were simply too powerful from the maul and, although Ulster managed to repel one, Jacques du Toit broke off the back of a second and over for the bonus point score.

The tough conditions were getting to both sides, with Ulster particularly looking completely shattered, but somehow they found a response and again it was a scrum-half who crossed – this time replacement Johnny Stewart on the shoulder to receive McCloskey’s offload to cross.

And, rather ironically, Ulster then took the lead when they turned the screw on their own driving maul, powering towards the line and when it was hauled down by Charles Marais, the prop was yellow carded and the penalty try was awarded.

But you can never sleep on the dangerous Cheetahs, and almost instantaneously they retook the lead, Maxwane chipping over the top and regathering himself to go over for their fifth try.

Replacement fly-half Louis Fouche then knocked over a monster penalty from inside his own half to seemingly secure the result.

Yet Ulster refused to lie down and they snatched a draw at the death when Henry Speight spun his way over at the line and Burns landed the crucial conversion.



Tries: Olivier, Small-Smith, Dweba, Du Toit, Maxwane
Cons: Schoeman (3), Fouche
Pens: Schoeman, Fouche


Tries: Shanahan (2), Stewart, Penalty, Speight
Cons: Burns (3), Penalty
Pens: Burns (2)

CHEETAHS:  Malcolm Jaer; William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Nico Lee, Rabz Maxwane; Tian Schoeman (Louis Fouche 72), Tian Meyer (Shaun Venter 60); (1-8) Ox Nche (Charles Marais 71), Joseph Dweba (Jacques du Toit 60), Aranos Coetzee; Walt Steenkamp (Justin Basson 60), JP du Preez; Gerhard Olivier, Junior Pokomela, Niell Jordaan (Stephan Malan 71).

Not used: Gunther Janse van Vuuren, Ryno Eksteen.

Yellow card: Charles Marais (74′)

ULSTER: Peter Nelson; Henry Speight, Darren Cave (Angus Curtis 69), Stuart McCloskey, Angus Kernohan; Billy Burns, David Shanahan (Johnny Stewart 60); (1-8) Eric O’Sullivan (Andy Warwick 61), Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst (Tom O’Toole 12); Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell (John Andrew 62); Matty Rea, Sean Reidy (Nick Timoney 25), Marcell Coetzee (Jean Deysel 52).

Not used: Johnny McPhillips.

Yellow card: Alan O’Connor (52′)

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article

About the author:

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel