The hosts scored five converted tries as the DHL Stormers, disrupted by a number of injuries, struggled to find their rhythm, and they were without of possession and stuck in their own half for large parts of the match against one of the top sides in the league.
The Capetonians were forced into late changes due to injury – Junior Pokomela and Clayton Blommetjies were ruled out before kick-off, replaced by Marcel Theunissen and Kade Wolhuter, with Connor Evans and Andre-Hugo Venter coming onto the bench – and to compound matters, they lost JJ Kotze in fourth minute, with Scarra Ntubeni coming on for his first appearance since April 2022.
Ulster made the most of their opponents’ lethargic start, with tries by Nathan Doak and Ben Moxham in the first 20 minutes as they kept the DHL Stormers pinned in their own half and starved them of any meaningful possession, with Duane Vermeulen winning a couple of breakdown turnovers.
A few minutes after Moxham’s try, there were more disruptions as Evan Roos and Jean-Luc du Plessis left the field, with Ruben van Heerden and Juan de Jongh coming on as they were forced to make some positional changes too.
The Capetonians had an opportunity to score after 33 minutes, but fluffed their lines after which Ulster patiently worked their way back upfield where Nick Timoney grabbed their third try in added time to see the hosts take a 21-0 lead at the break.
The second half started like the first half ended – with Jeff Toomaga-Allen crashing over two minutes after Ben-Jason Dixon was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle, from another missed tackle in midfield by the visitors.
Mike Lowry rubbed more salt into the Capetonians’ wounds with a great try after a free-flowing attacking move in the 57th minute and although the visitors never gave up, with Venter scoring a late maul-try, they simply lacked the cohesion to threaten Ulster and left Belfast with empty hands.
Ulster 35 (21) – Tries: Nathan Doak, Ben Moxham, Nick Timoney, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Mike Lowry. Conversions: Doak (4), John Cooney.
DHL Stormers 5 (0) – Try: Andre-Hugo Venter.