Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said they had no choice but to go to the corner with a couple of late penalties rather than tie the match against Munster in Cork on Saturday night.
But the Munster rearguard held out for a win which will go a long way towards securing a home semi-final in the Pro12 play-offs while also ensuring that the concluding weeks of Townsend’s reign are likely to fizzle out without a bid for honours.
A Stuart Hogg try 12 minutes from time gave Warriors hope after being outplayed for most of the second-half of a tough, uncompromising encounter.
But any hope of staving off a fourth loss to Munster this season evaporated when Warriors were unable to score after winning the lineouts following the penalties. “We had to go out and win that game,” said Townsend, pictured. “We had opportunities with the lineout drive and the sequence of phases that we went through there. We were probably a bit too far out from the 22.
“But we are sixth in the league so we needed a win to have any chance of getting into the top four. Maybe it would have given us an opportunity to go back down later. But we felt that, with the momentum that we had, it was a good opportunity to go for that lineout drive.”
Warriors were fighting an uphill battle from the sixth minute when they were turned over following a defensive five-metre scrum, with Munster prop James Cronin squeezing over.
“It was a close one,” added Townsend. “Munster got off to a good start. They played some energetic rugby and they were very good in the contact area as well, so we couldn’t get our game going in the first 20 minutes. We showed glimpses in the first half, getting down to their tryline a few times and getting around that line-speed they have in defence, but didn’t score. In the second half we played a lot of rugby in our half. Players put in the effort and created an opportunity in the last ten minutes. We had possession and territory, but fair play to Munster. They defended outstandingly well in that last sequence of play.”
Munster led 7-0 at the break and they dominated the second-half with the introduction of skipper Peter O’Mahony and Donnacha Ryan but struggled to extend their lead, with efforts from Jack O’Donoghue and Ronan O’Mahony being ruled out by the TMO.
Rory Scannell extended the lead with a 61st-minute penalty but Warriors finished strongly, with Hogg scoring after a chip and chase.
But Munster remained disciplined to the end and held out for a priceless win as they bid for glory on two fronts.
Promising young flanker Conor Oliver, in only his third start for Rassie Erasmus’ side, summed up the value of the win. “It was a brilliant result, low-scoring but a really tough game,” said the 21-year old. “They are a great team, nearly a whole Scottish international team on the field.”