Glasgow Warriors had no answers against a Munster side who took a leap back into the top four of the RaboDirect PRO12 with what ended as a facile victory in Limerick last night.
The bonus-point-win lifted the Irish side above their opponents and it was fully deserved, although they had to fight to secure the extra point, having to rely on a penalty try six minutes from the finish to make sure.
The visitors might have felt aggrieved at the concession of that score but they can have no argument at the defeat. Munster’s attacking rugby in the first half was just too much for them to cope with, despite the bright start they enjoyed.
Glasgow took an early lead with a long-range penalty from stand-off Duncan Weir, who got the points via an upright, but they were rocked back on their heels when Munster struck for a seventh-minute try. It all came from clean lineout possession, a dynamic run from openside flanker Tommy O’Donnell and a subsequent dive over the ruck and dot down from CJ Stander, the South African backrow who has signed as a project player with an eye to eventually playing for Ireland. Stander was denied a try against Llanelli Scarlets last weekend, this time he made the whitewash and Ronan O’Gara converted to give Munster a 7-3 lead.
DTH Van Der Merwe caused panic in the Munster defence after 15 minutes but his charge for the line was stopped by the impressive Simon Zebo who managed to push the winger into touch just before he grounded. However, Glasgow refused to lie down and Weir was just off target with an 18th minute drop goal attempt and they continued to pile on the pressure.
Munster held out, though, and then launched a series of offensives that yielded a quite magnificent try after 23 minutes, with all of the back row involved. Stander won possession from a breakdown but it was left to James Coughlan and O’Donnell to produce the brilliance that ended with the No.7 galloping away for a try under the posts that O’Gara converted.
That sparked Munster into urgent action and Glasgow were fortunate to survive the pressure until O’Gara’s clever chip forced the visitors to concede a penalty. At 17-3, Munster weren’t happy, although they did have to rely on a stroke of good luck when the ball broke forward as Glasgow attempted to respond. Instead of perhaps making the breakthrough, the visitors found themselves on the back foot again, with Stander galloping all of 80 metres for a try at the corner, to the acclaim of his new colleagues. O’Gara punished the Warriors further when he knocked over the conversion from the right touchline.
Munster were denied a fourth try five minutes into the second half when hooker Mike Sherry was dragged into touch in much the same way as Van Der Merwe had been in the opening half. That was really about the only decent action of a disappointing third quarter during which Munster had to contend with a determined but unproductive Glasgow response.
The second half was certainly of a lower standard than the first and the crowd response was obvious until midway through the period when favourite Peter Stringer entered the fray for Duncan Williams. The veteran scrum half made an immediate impact in terms of speed of possession. That mattered little in terms of breaking down a dogged Glasgow in-yourface defence, however, and it took the Munster pack to do the donkey work leading to the crucial bonus-point try. Three dominant scrums forced referee Davies to make the decision to award a penalty try that was converted by O’Gara