A resolute defensive performance saw Glasgow Warriors earn a hard-fought 13-11 victory over Munster at Scotstoun this evening, as Nigel Carolan’s men consolidated their place in the top four of the United Rugby Championship.
Scott Cummings crossed for Glasgow’s only try of the game in a Player of the Match-winning performance, with the Warriors stretching their unbeaten run in the competition to four matches.
A pacy start to proceedings saw the home side immediately look to stretch the visiting defence, roared on by the Warrior Nation. A well-crafted lineout play saw Sam Johnson slice through the middle of the Munster defence, whilst Ollie Smith and Jamie Dobie – on after an early head injury to Rufus McLean – combined well in the back-field in response to the Munster kicking game.
Whilst Duncan Weir missed a tricky early penalty from 40 metres when presented with a chance to open the scoring, the Glasgow fly-half would not pass up a second such opportunity on 15 minutes. A high tackle on Smith from Chris Farrell 15 metres in front of the posts was straightforward for a kicker of Weir’s calibre, and the Warriors led 3-0.
With the February sleet starting to fall, the kicking battle was becoming increasingly important in terms of dictating field position and possession. George Horne and Smith were particularly involved on the front line for Glasgow, with Ben Healy and Mike Haley leading the response for the visitors.
Indeed, the Scotstoun faithful were made to wait until the 38th minute for the match’s next points; with Munster on the front foot, an offside Glasgow defender in midfield was punished by Healy from 35 metres to tie the scores.
Yet that wouldn’t be the final act in a physical opening stanza, with the crowd rising to acclaim the half’s outstanding moment of quality. A box-kick from Neil Cronin was charged down by the stretching Cummings, before the second-rower swooped to pick the ball off his bootlaces on the greasy surface. Not content with the pick-up, the Scotland star duly produced a finish from the top-drawer, reaching over his own head to dot down for the score. Weir added the extras with the final kick of the half, and the Warriors led 10-3 at the interval.
Stung by the try on the stroke of half-time, it was Munster who came out of the changing rooms on the front foot, with Healy’s boot pinning the home side in their own half. The Warriors were equal to every challenge that was through at them, however, with one particular steal from Jack Dempsey bringing the West Stand to their feet as he carried three Munstermen with him over the gain line.
The visitors continued to come forward with intent, though, and momentum looked to be swinging their way with 55 minutes on the clock as Fraser Brown was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on at a ruck. Healy’s penalty attempt from halfway drifted wide of the mark, however, as the Scotstoun faithful rallied their troops.
Weir and Healy traded penalties during the sin-bin period, leaving the game finely poised as the match entered the final 10 minutes. Once more it was Munster who would up the ante, and this time the Irish side would find their way through. Replacement scrum-half Paddy Patterson’s cut-out pass inside the Glasgow 22 put Jean Kleyn through a gap, with the second-rower having enough power and momentum to get the ball down over the line. Crucially, however, Jack Crowley pulled the conversion attempt wide of the uprights, setting the stage for one final defensive stand from the Warriors.
It was a stand they tore into with aplomb, with hit after hit coming in from those in black and blue. Even with the clock ticking into the red and backs to the wall, there would be no quarter given from the home side. When the opportunity arose it was Dempsey who pounced, latching onto the ball at the breakdown and refusing to be moved. The resulting penalty decision was roared to the rafters, with Weir duly booting the ball into the stand to seal a vital victory over their URC rivals.
Kick-off 8:00 pm