The first half was a tight contest as both teams found their rhythm and did their best to strike whenever the opportunity arose, and this saw each side score two tries apiece, although a penalty goal and extra conversion saw Ulster take an encouraging 17-12 halftime lead.

The second half delivered more of the same with both sides throwing everything at one another to secure their bonus points, but Ulster’s superior goal kicking saw them snatch the victory with both teams scoring four tries each in the match.

The result allowed third-placed Ulster to claw their way closer to the second-placed DHL Stormers on the log with only four pool rounds left, while the Cell C Sharks remained in seventh place.

The Cell C Sharks broke out of the blocks with a bang with Springbok scrumhalf Grant Williams scoring brilliant try in the first minute after breaking through the defence before beating another defender for their first try.

They continued to attack at will, retaining possession and running hard on attack, while Ulster also tried to make their presence felt.

The Irishmen put their first points on the board in the 18th minute compliments of a penalty goal by scrumhalf John Cooney, and they managed to work their way close to the tryline soon after, but without success.

This boosted their confidence as replacement hooker Tom Steward forced his way over the chalk from a powerful rolling maul in the 24th minute, and the conversion pushed them 10-5 ahead.

The hosts cancelled this out in the 30th minute as wing Thaakir Abrahams gathered a brilliant chip kick and broke away on the outside to score their second try, allowing them to regain the lead.

Steward added his second try two minutes later to hand them a 17-12 lead, and they almost added their third try in the dying minutes of half, but wing Aaron Sexton was ruled to be in touch before dotting down the ball, and they held onto this lead going into the sheds.

Ulster built on this three minutes into the second half with an opportunistic try by centre Stewart Moore, who pounced on the ball as Williams was getting ready for a box kick to clear the ball from a ruck, which nudged their score to 24 points

Bosch had the opportunity to cut down their deficit in the 46th minute, but the pressure of the shot clock saw him push his goal attempt wide.

The Durbanites’ fought back with intent in the 51st minute with Springbok prop Ntuthuko Mchunu darting over from a pick-and-go and the successful conversion left them trailing by 24-19, but this was again cancelled out as Ulster lock Harry Sheridan forced his way through a few defenders to earn their bonus point try and a handy 31-19 lead in the 58th minute.

The Cell C Sharks hung on with fullback Boeta Chamberlain adding his name to the score sheet in the 68th minute for their bonus point try, which saw them stretch their score to 24 points with minutes left to play, and unfortunately for hosts they lost the ball metres from the tryline soon after, which denied them from potentially leveling the scores.

Both sides threatened to score in the dying minutes, but without success, which saw Ulster snatch the 31-24 victory.


Cell C Sharks 24 (12) – Tries: Grant Williams, Thaakir Abrahams, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Boeta Chamberlain. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2).

Ulster 31 (17) - Tries: Tom Steward (2), Stewart Moore, Harry Sheridan. Conversions: John Cooney (4). Penalty goal: Cooney.