Glasgow struck an early blow with a solid win over Irish giants Munster at Scotstoun last night but were left frustrated not to come away with a bonus point in a game of two halves.
Against the side who finished second to them in Conference A last season, the Warriors delivered a magnificent first half to put the game pretty much beyond doubt.
The under-pressure Glasgow pack made their point with a robust and dynamic opening 40 minutes which shut Munster out of the game completely until the break and laid the foundations for three tries.
There was to be no fourth in the second period, though, as the opposition woke from their slumber to put up more of a fight.
This was by no means Munster at full might, with the likes of Lions stars Conor Murray, CJ Stander and Keith Earls absent through a combination of injury and national team player management, but Glasgow take the four points and move top of the conference.
Glasgow had the first opportunity with an offside penalty but Peter Horne will have been disappointed to miss what was a straightforward chance.
He made amends with an even easier shot after 15 minutes after a good spell of forward pressure in the Munster 22 forced more indiscipline from the visitors. The Warriors continued to dominate and when the first try came it was a thing of beauty.
Munster couldn’t deal with the pace and tempo of the hosts, who bamboozled the men in red with slick offloading and effective rucking.
The excellent Adam Hastings, pictured inset, was pulling the strings and, after first sending Peter Horne on a piercing charge down the middle, the ball was moved quickly right and a nicely floated pass by the young stand-off found flanker Callum Gibbins out on the wing to dive over in the corner.
Horne was wayward again with the conversion but Glasgow’s utter dominance continued and the Scotstoun crowd had another peach of a try to celebrate on the half-hour mark as man-of-the-match Hastings’ delightful grubber was pounced on by Stuart Hogg over the line for the touchdown, with the full-back taking the goalkicking duties to convert and open up a 15-0 lead.
As one-sided a half of rugby as you are likely to see came to an end when Munster’s performance was summed up by a horrible fumble on his own line by stand-off JJ Hanrahan, which was gratefully pounced on by Adam Ashe and Hogg converted to make it a commanding 22-0 at the break which, if anything, flattered the lacklustre Irish. A no doubt stern talking to from coach Johann van Graan elicited a response from Munster and they were far more competitive after the break, Hanrahan pinging over an early penalty before being substituted.
Glasgow were kept pinned back and given no sniff of the bonus-point score.
Munster’s huffing and puffing finally gained reward when sub Rhys Marshall crashed over near the posts with ten minutes to go and Joey Carbery converted despite suspicions of a knock-on earlier in the play.
When Glasgow were awarded a penalty four minutes later, stretching the lead beyond two converted scores was the priority and Hogg was successful before hobbling from the fray.
Rennie revealed that the Scotland full-back had picked up an ankle knock early in the game but the coach’s initial impression was that it was nothing serious.
Co-captain Ryan Wilson also went off late on and Rennie said he had been bashed and bruised after a physical encounter.
For a second it looked like the fourth try had been scored as Gibbins broke through but it was called back by the referee for a Munster penalty and Glasgow had to settle. The Warriors now head to South Africa for a double header against Cheetahs and Kings, flying out tomorrow with a squad of 29.