A BONUS-POINT for four tries was little consolation for Glasgow Warriors to show after 80 minutes of toil and effort at Thomond Park last night as Munster took victory with the last kick of the game.
This was an epic PRO14 encounter, but one unlikely to feature on any Warriors Christmas DVD, unless you like a good heart-breaking tear-jerker.
Trailing 24-22, and with the clock red, Munster were awarded a penalty, inches inside the Glasgow half.
Rory Scannell, untested in the match, teed up the ball and, while wind-assisted, 55 metres was a helluva distance to reach for the win. Left-footed, the Irish centre banged his effort over.
Munster celebrated like they’d won the entire tournament, while some Glasgow players sank in despair. That was a hard one for anyone to take, even Glasgow coach Dave Rennie.
“It’s a very quiet dressing room,” said Rennie, who appeared to be struggling to put his emotions in to words.
“I was really proud of the guys. We scored some great tries and applied a lot of pressure. With a bit of luck from the TMO we might have got another couple.
“I’m proud of the effort but disappointed to lose in that fashion where we are one ruck away from winning it.
“It’s a game of inches at this level, though you’ve got to give credit to them for coming back at us.”
When he does analyse this game, Rennie will see that Glasgow’s kicking from hand in the first half and line-out delivery throughout caused them unnecessary woes. But he’ll still feel hard done to.
On a bitterly cold evening it didn’t take long for the Thomond Park atmosphere to warm up significantly when Rory Hughes and Munster skipper Peter O’Mahoney had a coming together in centre field which almost broke in to a full-blown rammy as team-mates joined in.
It was merely in keeping with the dislike these teams appear to have for one another.
Munster were quickly on the advance. From rolling maul down the left, Munster came inside. Rory Scannell, who must be slightly peeved at not being in the Ireland squad for the Autumn Tests, linked to JJ Hanrahan who found Keith Earls, on the loop, bursting into the line and make significant yards in to Glasgow territory.
While they repelled that onslaught, Munster crabbed across field until James Cronin, their loose head, made ground before being shunted over for the score. Hanrahan couldn’t miss for 7-0.
Glasgow themselves were more productive when they ran. After a quick Munster tap, Warriors produced a magnificent counter-attack. Matt Fagerson set off the move that saw Hughes connect with Pete Horne, who then launched his brother George on a foot race, which the Warriors scrum-half won.
Out of the equation by now, however, was centre Sam Johnson. Dogged by injury, the centre – lauded just 10 days ago when Gregor Townsend named his Test squad – limped off silently, few words being exchanged between him and the physios, usually a tell-tale sign the player knows how serious the complaint might be.
Glasgow squandered a chance to take the lead, Horne’s mid-range penalty again drifting wide but, five minutes from the interval, George Horne scored a second try.
Sammy Arnold was a mile offside as Glasgow took possession, but the gap he left was exploited by first Ruaridh Jackson, then Nick Grigg, who angled his run beautifully to give the Horne the chance to run in the try. His sibling did the afters.
Grigg had another break, this time as Scannell tore off the line, but the Munster defence was sound. And it needed to be as Grigg and Jackson probed. The full-back was held short, but Chris Cloete was yellow-carded for taking Adam Ashe out.
Glasgow were unrelenting and, when Munster’s seven-man scrum disintegrated, Matt Fagerson gathered and rammed his way through the fringe cover to score.
Hanrahan belted over a penalty from inside the 22 to cut the deficit. However, Glasgow earned a fourth, bonus-point try via the Horne household, George chipped, Pete gather and touched down.
Alex Wooton scrambled in on the corner to make it 24-15, then Alby Mathewson somehow stretching every sinew, made the line, Hanrahan converting to trail 24-22.
The clock looked as if the cold was slowing it down. With a minute to go, Glasgow had ball and men on halfway, happy to stay put. Then the referees whistle sounded with the clock on red. A Glasgow player isolated, a penalty to Munster, and Scannell did the rest.
Source : HeraldScotland