Munster turn in gritty performance to better Glasgow in physical affair.

Munster begin the better of the two sides with Billy Holland showing some nice touch off a lineout move before a James Hart box kick saw Glasgow mark the ball and clear.

In a pattern reminiscent of recent weeks, a series if poor tactical kicks took the momentum out of early attacks. However with 8 minutes gone munster forced a turnover and some quick hands faced Glasgow into an infringement at the ruck.

Glasgow were offside from the next phase and the returning Bleyendaal converted the simple kick to make it 3-0 to Munster.

More Munster pressure saw a Glasgow winger ushered into touch before a lineout maul was brought down close to the line with referee Mitrea awarding the penalty. which. Bleyendaal dispatched the kick to the corner but a lineout malfunction saw the chance come to an end.

Some excellent Chris Cloete work at the breakdown saw Glasgow pinged for holding on but Bleyendaal penalty attempt was well short on a blustery night for kickers. Indeed the opening quarter of the game was largely forgettable as both sides struggled to put phases together.

With 23 minutes on the clock, Ratu Tagive was penalised for not releasing the ball after he was tackled into touch. Bleyendaal again went to the corner. Munster’s lineout was on the money and Niall Scannell was adjudged to have grounded the ball at the end of the drive after the TMO’s intervention.

Bleyendaal’s concession from the left touchline was a work of art as he drifted the ball from left to right over the crossbar to give Munster a 10-0 lead with 25 minutes on the clock.

With 60\% of the ball and 70\% possession in the opening half hour Munster were full value for their lead without playing anywhere near their best.

Glasgow finally made a break in the 31st minute but some superb defensive work form Alex Wootton dislodged the ball when it looked a nailed on try for Glasgow flanker Matthew Smith. Munster made good their escape from the resultant scrum.

From their next attack Munster forced another penalty with Bleyendaal again slotting the kick from 40 metres to push the lead out to 13-0.

A knock out from a Munster attack brought the half to a close and while they were deserving of their 13 point lead, Johann van Graan knew his side were capable of better.

A defensive lapse almost straight from the restart again saw Munster split but some excellent covering work halted Glasgow’s progress on the twenty two. A ruck infringement presented Glasgow outhalf Adam Hastings with a  penalty chance which he duly kicked to cut the gap to 13-3.

Niall Scannell departed the fray only two minutes into the half having taken a big knock in the first half and another in the opening minute of the second.

Munster were shutting Glasgow down in the narrow channels and were happy when the game was contested as an arm wrestle. The Scottish side were getting their most joy from broken play and through the midfield.

Glasgow finally got a reward from their midfield exploits as a Glasgow scrum half George Horne was on the end of a break to score a fine try with Hastings adding the extras to reduce the arrears to just three points. It was a costly phase of play as Munster lost Chris Cloete to an arm injury in the build up.

Munster needed a response and when James Hart made a nuisance of himself at a Glasgow breakdown, a quick thinking kick ahead on a loose ball saw some great work from James Cronin to gather and dot down put Munster into an 18-10 lead.

Cronin’s try seemed to breathe life back into Munster and three minutes later a very deft box kick from Hart sat up perfectly for Calvin Nash for the Young Munster man to apply an acrobatic finish before being hauled back for having a foot in touch.

As the game ticked into the final quarter Bleyendaal split the posts win a penalty to edge Munster into a 21-10 lead and put the Scottish side out of bonus point range.

The closing stages were certainly not easy on the eye and the fact that Glasgow ran for more metres than Munster during the game tells its own story and leaves Munster in no doubt that the defence needs tidying up.

However the manner of what was such a gritty win over the table toppers can only have pleased Johann van Graan. The final result reduced the conference gap with Glasgow to twelve points and might not have a huge effect on the final post season standings but from a confidence point of view it should hold Munster in good stead.

 

 

 

 

 

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Raffaele Rocca

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