James Hume and Ulster shaping up for Stormers semi-final

Ulster will travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship semi-final on Saturday afternoon after all four quarter-finals went with home advantage.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Monday, 6th June 2022, 9:00 am

Dan McFarland’s side had booked their place in the last four with a dominant performance against Munster at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night while the Stormers toiled against Edinburgh, winning 28-17.

Ulster will arrive in Cape Town with a sense of injustice after suffering a 23-20 defeat when the sides met in South Africa at the end of March in a regular-season league game when Callum Reid’s late try was chalked off.

James Hume, a try scorer and ‘man-of-the-match’ winner against Munster, believes if Ulster can replicate their performance from the quarter-final, they have nothing to fear in the last four.

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Ulster’s James Hume (left). Pic by PA.

“I think we owe the Stormers one from the way the game ended the last time, I wasn’t playing in that game, but we didn’t take it too well,” said Hume. “So going over there it might be a different gameplan in the conditions as it will probably be warmer out there.

“How the Munster game felt, how well our back three performed, how well Stu (McCloskey) played, how well Billy (Burns) played and Coons (John Cooney) as well...it was really exciting to play in.

“I thought that try Stew Moore scored off the lineout was class and just summed up the whole game, we usually hide away in big games like that and go more to a kicking game.

“But to see us play the way we did was great and I loved it.

“We have so many options, every move should have two or three options, the passes could have gone to different places and we maybe still would have got a line break, that’s the exciting thing...we can still build on that.”

Ulster are now only two wins away from ending their 16-year trophy drought and Hume believes this team is capable of bringing silverware back to Kingspan Stadium.

“We’ll take it in our stride, I don’t think we really mentioned ‘let’s go on and win this thing’ because basically at the start of the season our goal is to win the URC and the Heineken Cup,” he said. “Obviously we were knocked out of the Heineken Cup so our sole focus is now on the URC and I do believe we can go on and win it.

“But it is just taking the games in our stride.”

Hume’s performance on both sides of the ball in the quarter-final has all-but-guaranteed his place on the plane to New Zealand for Ireland’s summer tour and he puts his improvement in defence down to parting coach Jared Payne.

“Sops (Dan Soper) and Dan (McFarland) have played a big part in getting me where I am but I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am without what JP has done at the club,” he said. “I would genuinely put him as a genius defensively, he always has an answer for everything you ask him and I don’t stop asking questions because I know it is going to be the right answer and massive credit to him.

“There is still a long way to go, I missed a couple of tackles against Munster, which I’m peeved off about, but that is always a good thing that you can work on.”