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Stormers pull off last-gasp win to clinch all-South African final

The Stormers snatched their semi-final against Ulster long after the hooter having been reduced to 14 men.

Manie Libbok kept his cool to slot a conversion to Warrick Gelant’s 87th minute score and send the Cape Town Stadium into delirium.

The victory means the Stormers will host the United Rugby Championship final in Cape Town and will meet the Bulls a week from today.

Mike Adamson has a howler

Referee Mike Adamson during the United Rugby Championship 2021/22 Semifinal match between Stormers and Ulster held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa on 11 June 2022 Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Referee Mike Adamson did not have his best day at the office, twice calling for a TMO review after a complaint from Ulster skipper Iain Henderson but perhaps in the heat of the moment he had forgotten that captain’s reviews had been scrapped.

Adamson also allowed Ulster to play a spoiling game without risk of sanction as multiple penalties inside their own 22 would not even coax a warning from the Scottish referee’s lips.

Henderson can be forgiven for trying to game the referee but an elite official should not so easily find himself in the pocket of a team’s skipper.

Libbok earned the victory for the Stormers and redemption for his own erratic kicking game with a late conversion.

Much of the last few minutes of the game were played close to the Ulster line and passions were running hot and mistakes were plentiful.

The Stormers had earlier raced out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a rolling maul score from JJ Kotze and a beautifully worked set move try for Evan Roos.

However, Ulster’s defence proved to be their route back into the game as they repeatedly repelled the Stormers before two quick tries put them back in front.

The first came after a questionable pass but we will give Adamson the benefit of the doubt and say it looked tight rather than forward.

Before the break Cooney added a penalty that gave Ulster a 10-15 lead and the score stayed that way for the entire second half until after the hooter.

Stormers fight back

The Stormers had to do some defending of their own but made most of the play in the half.

Adri Smith was sent off for fumbling his fingers around the eyes of Henderson with six minutes to go but that seemed to galvanise the Stormers and also saw them become more disciplined and focused.

Ulster conceded a slew of penalties in their own 22 and can’t really argue that they deserved victory.

They defended until the last but eventually, Gelant was found in acres of space with Ulster all sucked in close and got in for the game-tying score.

Libbok’s kick flirted with pushing past the post as if we hadn’t seen enough drama and then slipped over.

The Stormers go into the final off the back of an incredible winning streak.