Munster Win Cork Cracker To Push Clear In Second Place
Munster defeated Glasgow Warriors for the fourth time this season as James Cronin’s early try guided them to a 10-7 win in Cork last evening.
This low scoring affair was an absorbing contest from start to finish with Glasgow bidding to spoil Munster’s plans for a home semi final and also themselves chasing an outside chance at a spot in the playoffs.
The pace and intensity was frenetic throughout and when James Cronin crossed in the 4th minute it looked as though Munster would kick on and add more points.
It never materialised as stubborn Glasgow defence coupled with uncharacteristic Munster inaccuracies saw Rassie Erasmus’ charges squander several guilt edged chances.
The most glaring error came when Ronan O’Mahony fumbled past the try-line although he was under pressure from a Glasgow defender. However a Rory Scannell penalty extended Munster’s lead to ten points.
Glasgow would have their say the ever dangerous Stuart Hogg scoring a fine try from his own chip ahead. The score from broken loose play seemed to be the only way Glasgow would find any success.
Despite the try, Glasgow came up against a superb defensive wall. The line speed, intensity and desire of Munster’s defence is something that will please Jacques Nienaber.
Despite making ten changes from their European victory over Toulouse, Munster kept up their fine form against Gregor Townsend’s side, and a home PRO12 semi-final is now within their grasp. They are seven points clear of the third-placed Ospreys with three rounds remaining.
South African loan-signing Jean Deysel made an instant impact as a ball carrier in Munster’s early attacks, the pressure leading to Cronin burrowing over for his try from a close-in ruck. Indeed Deysel looks like a good bit of business by Munster and definitely another abrasive ball carrying option.
Tyler Bleyendaal converted before his night was ended prematurely by injury, with the out half being removed for a head injury assessment.
The initial signs look like it was more a precaution than anything overtly serious. Whether or not we will see Bleyendaal against Ulster next week is another question especially with Saracens on the horizon.
Glasgow started to get into the game with scrum half Ali Price threatening around the fringes.
Both sides left points behind them from visits to the 22, the end-to-end action seeing Munster full-back Andrew Conway thrive under the high ball with Nick Grigg the pick of Glasgow’s backs.
Both management teams will be happy with their defensive performances but irked by the lack of composure and precision in attack.
There were further missed opportunities for Munster after the interval, the hosts unable to convert from a brilliant Conway break and their forwards, including regular captain Peter O’Mahony who was sprung from the bench, going close soon after.
Winger O’Mahony thought he had scored in the 56th minute, having linked in superb fashion with Duncan Williams and Jaco Taute. However, replays showed that he lost control of the ball over the line and the try was correctly ruled out.
A subsequent penalty from Scannell put the province into the double figures, however Hogg hit back in the 68th minute, his well-placed kick exposing Conway, who misjudged the bounce of the ball, and the Scotland full-back regathered it near the right touchline to run in close to the posts.
Finn Russell converted and Glasgow enjoyed a serious purple patch past the 70-minute mark. Given their sixth place position in the table, they had to turn down a kickable penalty and instead press for a late match-winning try.
With their strong bench a factor, Munster stood firm in defence, forcing a couple of crucial knock-ons with young openside and man-of-the-match Conor Oliver at his disruptive best.