Glasgow Warriors V Munster
A late Ian Keatley drop-goal snatched victory away from Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun this evening, as Munster claimed a 16-15 win to remain top of the GUINNESS PRO12Mark Bennett scores for Glasgow in the narrow defeat to Munster
Second half tries from man-of-the-match Ali Price and Mark Bennett had seen Gregor Townsend’s side lead by two points as the game entered its final minutes, before Keatley’s late intervention ensured the spoils were returning to Ireland with the visitors.
The early exchanges were fiercely contested, with both sides looking to gain an early advantage in front of a sold-out Scotstoun.
It was the visitors who were the first to trouble the scoreboard, as Ian Keatley was on target with a straightforward penalty to give his side the lead after nine minutes.
Just two minutes later, Munster struck for the first try of the match. Ian Keatley’s cross-field kick was tapped down by Darren Sweetnam, with Andrew Conway the first to the loose ball to touch down. Keatley added the conversion, giving the visitors a 10-0 lead.
Glasgow had the opportunity to respond immediately, as referee Nigel Owens penalised the Irish side straight from the restart. However, Peter Horne pushed the kick just wide with his first attempt of the night.
The fly-half made amends just moments later, though, sending a penalty through the uprights to reduce the gap to 10-3 with 16 minutes played.
A searing break from Nick Grigg saw the Warriors earn another penalty on 22 minutes. However, the penalty came at a cost, as Horne was forced to leave the field on a stretcher after suffering an injury in the midst of the move.
The Warriors, however, were beginning to exert sustained pressure in the Munster 22. Dave Kilcoyne was sent to the sin-bin on 26 minutes, leaving Glasgow with the extra man.
It was an advantage that Glasgow were unable to exploit, though. Stout Munster defence, coupled with an near-monopoly on possession during the sin-bin period by Rassie Erasmus’ men, meant that the visitors’ lead remained intact. Indeed, Keatley added another penalty to extend his side’s lead to 13-3 with five minutes of the half remaining.
Despite Glasgow’s best efforts, it was a lead which Munster held until the break, Grigg knocking on just five metres from the line to bring about the half-time whistle.
The Warriors suffered a second injury blow of the evening just five minutes into the second half as Rory Hughes was forced to leave the field, Lee Jones taking his place on the wing.
Despite the disruption, Glasgow were enjoying the bulk of the early possession at the start of the second period. However, once again, they were unable to find a way through the red wall in front of them, with the Munster line holding firm.
Then, on the hour mark, a moment of magic. With Glasgow stealing a Munster lineout inside the 22, Ali Price showed speed of thought and even quicker feet to dart through the visitors’ defence, diving over for the try. Clegg added the conversion, and the gap was down to three.
Both sides were now asking questions, with Glasgow’s offloading game and Munster’s tactical kicking causing problems.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, the Warrior Nation were brought to their feet once more as Glasgow hit the lead for the first time in the match. With the game fragmenting in midfield, a long pass found Mark Bennett in space out wide. The centre hit the accelerator, before producing a trademark outside break to round Keatley and touch down in the corner. Clegg was unable to add the extras from out wide, but the Warriors led by 15-13.
It was now Munster enjoying the majority of the ball, as the league leaders looked to strike back. With three minutes to go, they did just that. With an advantage coming, Keatley dropped back into the pocket and slotted the drop-goal, putting his side back into the lead by a solitary point.
That was to be the final score of the game, as Munster’s defence held firm once more to deny the Warriors. Attentions now turn to the return of the European Champions Cup, with a visit to Paris to face Racing 92 in just eight days’ time.