Vermeulen stars as Ulster destroy Stormers in Belfast
URC REPORT: The Stormers will be going back to the drawing board after they suffered a demoralising 5-35 defeat to Ulster in a United Rugby Championship Round 13 clash in Belfast on Friday.
The home side scored five converted tries against a Stormers team that struggled to find a foothold in the game.
Injuries were also a big concern for the visitors.
Loose forward Junior Pokomela and fullback Clayton Blommetjies were late withdrawals from the starting XV. The Capetonians then lost hooker JJ Kotze in the fourth minute after a head clash. It got worse midway in the first half when No.8 Evan Roos and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis left the field with injuries.
Meanwhile, there was a big spotlight on Ulster No.8 Duane Vermeulen, who was playing against one of his former teams.
He was a menace at the breakdowns and he produced a number of turnovers in key areas on the field. He also played a big role in his team’s fifth try of the game, which was scored by Mike Lowry.
The result was never in doubt with the home team leading 21-0 at the break and having dominated the match.
Early on, both Nathan Doak and Tom Stewart got over the Stormers’ line only for both efforts to be ruled out by referee Ian Adamson.
It took until the 14th minute before Ulster did manage to register the first score which came from Doak after a break made by Stewart Moore and was carried on by Alan O’Connor and Harry Sheridan before the scrumhalf dived over.
Doak added the conversion and did so again seven minutes later when Ulster upped the ante and in a sweeping move, Moore provided the assist for Ben Moxham to race over.
Then after Ulster’s line had held firm, the home side finished the half strongly when Nick Timoney surged over from close range after a tap-and-go penalty.
The second half opened with Stormers lock Ben-Jason Dixon being yellow carded for a high hit on Michael Lowry and, shortly afterwards, Ulster had their bonus point when Jeff Toomaga-Allen was put in space by James Hume. Again Doak added the two points.
Ulster claimed their fifth try just before the hour when Duane Vermeulen and Moxham combined to feed Lowry who outran the despairing cover. This time John Cooney converted, and the home side were now 35-0 in front.
Andre-Hugo Venter grabbed a consolation score for the Stormers after 76 minutes which they failed to convert.
Player of the match
The award has to go to Springbok No.8 Duane Vermeulen, who was a standout in the physical exchanges. He was a colossus on defence and he was a menace at the breakdowns. He also played a big role in one of his team’s five tries.
Play of the match
Ben Moxham’s first-half try came at the end of a sweeping move by Ulster which began in their own half. James Hume and Sam Carter were initially involved and then with the ball being moved up to the line, it was flashed wide with Stewart Moore putting the Ulster wing in space to score.
Tries: Doak, Moxham, Timoney, Toomaga-Allen, Lowry
Cons: Doak 4, Cooney
Yellow card: Ben-Jason Dixon (Stormers, 43′ – foul play, high tackle)
Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Rob Lyttle, 13 James Hume, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Ben Moxham, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Harry Sheridan, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Ethan McIlroy.
Stormers: 15 Kade Wolhuter, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 11 Cornel Smit, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Ben-Jason Dixon, 3 Brok Harris, 2 JJ Kotze, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Andre-Hugo Venter, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Connor Evans, 23 Juan de Jongh.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Cole (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Additional source: @URCOfficial