The presence of a couple of ticket touts outside Scotstoun (why are they always English?) was testimony to the importance of Friday’s evening;s match. It’s been a while coming, so victory over Munster was all the more welcome because Friday’s win coincided with Glasgow’s best performance of the season to date – not that there was anything coincidental about it.
The possession and territory statistics were pretty even and Munster held the whip hand in the set scrum but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Glasgow out-Munstered the men in red where it mattered most, the breakdown and the tackle, where the home team where simply too physical for their illustrious visitors.
Moreover, Glasgow displayed their traditional traits of pace and skill, playing the game at a tempo that Munster couldn’t comprehend with a series of quickly taken lineouts, one of which led directly to the fourth try.
Partly as a result of fatigue Munster missed 18 tackles in all, five of them on Leonardo Sarto as the Italian weaved his way towards the Munster line before sending Scott Cummings over for the bonus point.
“I didn’t do much to be honest with you,” said the Glasgow lock. “Leo stepped about seven guys and I just supported him. I didn’t even think I was going to get the ball and all of a sudden it popped out to me. I only had about five metres to make.”
When Munster get outfought it is usually by a grizzled old pack of veterans but Glasgow’s front five forwards are barely out of short trousers. The starting front row were 21, 23 and 24 while Cummings is just 20 years old, a full decade younger than his second-row partner Tim Swinson.
At 6ft 6in and tipping the scales at almost 18½ stones Cummings brings a certain physical presence but that is not what marks the youngster out as one worth watching. Instead it is his athleticism and his skills which set him apart from any number of big lumps plying their trade in the boiler house.
Dave Rennie wants his forwards to run, pass and offload like backs and Cummings did exactly that seven minutes into the match. He picked a line off scrum-half Ali Price to break the Munster line before offloading to the ever present Callum Gibbins.
“That’s something Dave has said from the start, that one of the differences between northern and southern hemisphere rugby is the front five’s ability to play with the ball,” Cummings noted.
“We have done a lot more work in the front five on handling, our speed in the game, to make sure we have 15 players on the pitch who can all handle, all ball carry, run support lines. Two or three of the tries against Munster had forwards showing good hands.”
The last try of the night showcased not only Cummings’ ability with the ball in hand but also that incredible athleticism. Deep inside the final quarter most front five forwards are running low on gas but he shadowed Sarto as the Italian winger went on his mazy run and almost ripped the ball off the Italian when a red defender finally halted his progress.
“I think he’s an outstanding prospect,” was Rennie’s succinct post match appraisal of his young lock. “He’s a hell of an athlete. He scored a try for us pre-season from about 50 yards [against the Dragons]. He’s quick, he runs great lines, he’s got a great pair of hands.
“He’s a young man. He’s developing his physicality and he’s still got shifts to make there but I think he’s potentially pretty special, hence the reason he’s played a lot of footie for us so far.”