Ben Brady/INPHO Ulster's Jeff Toomaga Allen celebrates after scoring a try with James Hume, Harry Sheridan and Nathan Doak.
# another boost
Ulster swat understrength Stormers aside for first back-to-back wins since November
First tries in Ulster jerseys for Ben Moxham and Jeff Toomaga-Allen led Dan McFarland’s side to victory.

Ulster 35

DHL Stormers 5

FIRST TRIES IN Ulster jerseys for Ben Moxham and Jeff Toomaga-Allen led the province to their first back-to-back wins since November as an understrength DHL Stormers side were swatted aside at Kingspan Stadium by a five-try performance.

Dan McFarland’s side have endured a bruising festive period that saw them lose six games in seven but, after securing their place in the last-16 of the Heineken Champions Cup last week by beating Sale Sharks, they got another significant boost by returning to United Rugby Championship action with a crushing win over the South Africans.

The win does naturally come with an asterisk as, due to their extensive recent travel, the Stormers did arrive without the majority of their Springbok stars – including Ulster-bound loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff – but given the run they’ve had to deal with in recent weeks, this is a very welcome outcome for Ulster.

They were three tries to the good at the break thanks to Nathan Doak, Moxham and Nick Timoney, which had already made the result secure, and the bonus point was quick to arrive through Toomaga-Allen, with Mike Lowry adding some gloss in the second half.

Even more significantly, it is a win that brings McFarland’s men up to third in the table for the time being and just two points behind the second-placed Stormers in the race to secure a top-two finish in the URC, a race that Ulster have breathed new life into once more.

A distressing neck injury to Stormers hooker JJ Kotze interrupted the early flow of the game, the South African needing to be stretchered off just four minutes in after colliding with his own man Ben-Jason Dixon, but when it resumed it was all one-way traffic.

Ulster had two tries off the back of back-to-back mauls ruled out in under the space of a minute, Doak knocking on as the ball was transitioned back to him by Tom Stewart, before the hooker himself was denied the opening score as Sam Carter was adjudged to have crossed in front of him to allow him to cross.

But the try wasn’t long in coming and just before the quarter-hour mark it was provided by Doak, the scrum-half diving through the gap from all of two metres out after carries from Alan O’Connor and Harry Sheridan off the back of Stewart Moore’s scything carry, which took the province into the 22.

And the second didn’t take long in following either as, just five minutes later, some nice hands down the touchline from Rob Lyttle and Stewart took Ulster into the 22 and from there it was almost a formality, with Moxham the man to convert in the corner with the overlap.

It said a lot of Ulster’s dominance that the Stormers failed to have a foray into the hosts’ 22 until the half-hour mark, although it was dangerous enough to require an excellent cover tackle from Moxham to deny Suleiman Hartzenberg a try in the corner, but it would be the province who would extend their lead at the interval instead.

Having set up the first two tries, the forwards would produce the third all on their own, a tap-and-go penalty from the five-metre line and it was Timoney who barrelled his way over from close range to extend the lead further heading into the sheds.

junior-pokomela-tackels-stewart-moore Bryan Keane / INPHO DHL Stormers' Junior Pokomela tackles Stewart Moore of Ulster. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

And inside the opening ten minutes of the second half Ulster had their maximum haul wrapped up, aided by a yellow card to Dixon for a high tackle on Lowry, as James Hume cut through the middle of the pitch and had Toomaga-Allen on his shoulder to take it the rest of the way for a try he celebrated before he’d even crossed the line.

Lowry would then complete the rout and the hosts’ scoring as he was set over the line after some intricate passing from Duane Vermeulen and Moxham, although there was a slight disappointment at the end as Andre-Hugo Venter would prevent Ulster from keeping a clean sheet, powering over from the back of the maul for a late try that the visitors did, in fairness, deserve for how they finished the game.

But this was always Ulster’s night.

Ulster scorers:

Tries: Doak, Moxham, Timoney, Toomaga-Allen, Lowry

Cons: Doak (4), Cooney

Stormers scorers:

Try: Venter

ULSTER: Mike Lowry; Rob Lyttle (Ethan McIlroy 59), James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham; Billy Burns (Ian Madigan 72), Nathan Doak (John Cooney 53); (1-8) Eric O’Sullivan (Rory Sutherland 55), Tom Stewart (John Andrew 53), Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Andrew Warwick 65); Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Kieran Treadwell 53); Harry Sheridan (Jordi Murphy 55), Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

DHL STORMERS: Kade Wolhuter; Suleiman Hartzenberg, Ruhan Nel, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Cornel Smit; Jean-Luc du Preez (Juan de Jongh 23), Stefan Ungerer (Herschel Jantjies 54); (1-8) Ali Vermaak (Kwenzo Bloze 54), JJ Kotze (Scarra Ntubeni 4 (Andre-Hugo Venter 47)), Brok Harris (Sazi Sandi 54); Ben-Jason Dixon, Marvin Orie (Connor Evans 58); Marcel Theunissen, Willie Engelbrecht, Evan Roos (Ruben van Heerden 23). Yellow card: Ben-Jason Dixon (44′)

Man of the Match: Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Ulster)

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

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