Five things we learned as Munster snatched a late win in Glasgow

Five things we learned as Munster snatched a late win in Glasgow
Munster's Ian Keatley kicks a late drop goal to win his team the game. Pic: INPHO/Craig Watson

John Fallon examines the key lessons as Munster produced a 16-15 win at Scotstoun, thanks to an Ian Keatley drop goal.

Options at out-half

Tyler Bleyendaal is likely to get the out-half spot against Leicester Tigers next week but Ian Keatley showed his game is full of confidence at the moment.

That was obvious long before his match-winning drop goal three minutes from the end of this important league clash.

Keatley did well to prevent a try when he chased back to catch Nick Grigg, while his kicking from the hand was also self-assured.

A defensive position was switched to an attacking option five metres from the home line when Keatley measured a superb kick to touch from his own ten-metre line.

It deflated Glasgow Warriors just as the Scots were building up a head of steam.

Keatley would not have been happy with his efforts to tackle Grigg when the Glasgow centre got in for the try which put them in front for the first time eleven minutes from the end.

But Keatley wasn’t rattled and when they got one chance to snatch the game he nailed it.

Munster response

Munster’s ability to deal with issues or set-backs on the field has improved enormously this season. They were defending a 10-3 lead after 26 minutes when Dave Kilcoyne was binned when he became the latest to be pinged after a warning from referee Nigel Owens.

Glasgow went for the kill, winning the lineout from the penalty inside the 22 and looked set to drive over from 15 metres.

But Munster kept their shape despite being down a man and new lock Jean Kleyn came perfectly through the gate to execute a priceless turnover.

Munster cleared their lines and that set the tone not to concede any points when down to 14.

Zebo spirit

Simon Zebo may have been one of the Irish stars rested for this one but his spirit was evident in the footwork of Ronan O’Mahony, another player who continues to grow in confidence.

That was particularly evident after 53 minutes when a pass from Andrew Conway, subsequently adjudged to be forward, fell at O’Mahony’s feet and, quick as a flash, he controlled it in the air with his boot before dispatching it down the left touchline.

The move may have come to nothing but O’Mahony, who scored in each of his three previous games, is clearly a player oozing with confidence and he will add to Rassie Erasmus’ selection headaches in the coming weeks.

Confidence from winning

Winning breeds confidence and Munster are doing a lot on auto-pilot. The shock death of Anthony Foley is never far from their minds and as the wins keep getting chalked up, the self-assuredness of players is yielding a big dividend with the likes of Rory Scannell moving up to a new level following his recent call-up to the Irish squad.

His up-front tackling meant that Glasgow could not make tracks through the middle and with Jaco Taute again razor sharp, the Warriors were forced to gamble and go wide but, unlike their form of recent seasons, lacked the finer touches to do damage.

Getting sweeter

Darren Sweetnam has had a lot of expectation to deal with since he left down his hurley and joined Munster. But he has made big strides in the past year and looks set to fly. His one-handed catch late in the game when he stretched back to gather a Glasgow clearance was more akin to Pairc Ui Chaoimh than a Scottish rugby field, but he is the sort of player, if given the chance, who could blossom against Leicester in the coming weeks.

His pace and vision have never been in doubt but he now seems to possess the necessary self-belief to execute those skills on a bigger stage.

All in all, Rassie Erasmus could hardly ask to be in a stronger position going into the back-to-back December encounters in Europe.

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