Glasgow fell to their third league loss in as many matches and they did so in agonising fashion, with Munster fly-half Ian Keatley dropping a goal from 30 yards to take the points and the honours last night.
It was a difficult pill for the Scotstoun faithful to swallow as they had watched as their team bounce back from 3-13 down to be leading 15-13 with just a handful of minutes left on the match clock only for Keatley to spoil their evening.
It was, I am sorry to say, a game of two halves. Glasgow were awful in the first 40 and utterly changed men after the break, Clark Kent to Superman. That they didn’t quite hold out to win was a disappointment but had they played their second half rugby for the full 80 the Warriors would have had this one banked by half time.
In the first half the home team was simply out-muscled and with the physical miss-match it was no surprise that all the ugliest looking injuries went to the home team; Peter Horne carted off in the first half and Rory Hughes making the same painful trip after the break.
Glasgow were much improved in the second half, scored two cracking good scores from Ali Price and Mark Bennett that might have won them the game on another night but Munster did what Munster do and found a way to win.
Glasgow’s phase ball was slowed to snail’s pace by Munster and the home team were trying to attack wider than usual and not everyone’s handling skills could cope with the bullets fired across the offensive line by replacement fly-half Rory Clegg, but the Warriors still conjured up a couple of first half scoring chances, centres Nick Grigg and Mark Bennett both made brilliant solo efforts.
In a sign of what was to come Bennett picked a stunning line from a set scrum move to rip the red defence wide open and 70 yards later looked like he could have scored in the corner but instead chose to fling a speculative pass inside and the ball was lost forward.
Both sides started with vim and vigour as you’d expect but it was Munster that left their mark on the scoreboard. Keately kicked an early penalty on eight minutes and a little later the same man was lining up a touchline conversion of full-back Andrew Conway’s opening try.
Peter Murchie must shoulder some of the blame as twice in the opening exchanges the full-back’s poor clearance of his own lines gave Munster high field position that they did not waste.
The visitors drove a lineout with some success and when Glasgow finally halted that bandwagon Keatley kicked cross field, winger Darren Sweetnam rose above Murchie to knock the ball backwards and Conway was on hand for the touchdown. To his credit referee Nigel Owens didn’t waste time with the video replays, despite the suggestion from Ryan Wilson, and trusted his own eyes.
Horne got three back before injury interrupted the fly-half’s evening but Keatley restored Munster’s ten-point lead with a long range penalty just before the break.
Glasgow enjoyed more of the ball in the second half, enjoying the majority of possession and territory, but an inability to hold onto the ball for long enough to stress the Munster defence hampered the home side and all too often the half-backs had no alternative but to kick the hard won ball down town.
The break through, when it finally arrived on the hour mark, was down to a brilliant solo effort from the man of the moment. Glasgow stole a Munster throw inside the opposition 22 and Price threw a dummy and set off on scorching diagonal run which took him through three ineffective tackles to score a superb try just by the posts. Clegg’s conversion made it a three-point match.
Bennett gave Glasgow the lead for the first time on 69 minutes with an equally astonishing solo effort. Running back a Munster kick, Seymour sent Bennett horsing up the right wing and the centre dummied to the supporting Price before rounding the last defender with ease. The crowd went wild but their celebrations were short lived.