Munster 23 Glasgow Warriors 21
Ian Keatley landed a decisive late penalty as Munster kept up their unbeaten start to the Guinness PRO12 season with a 23-21 victory over Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park.
A neatly-taken drop goal from Rory Clegg, adding to his haul of six penalties from seven attempts, had put the under-strength Warriors on the cusp of victory but Keatley had the final say for the Irish province three minutes from time.
Anthony Foley’s men went in at the break leading 13-9, with young flanker Dave O’Callaghan crossing for the only try of the first half while his opposite number Tyrone Holmes was in the sin-bin.
Clegg’s reliable right boot kept Glasgow in touch and he added three more penalties to put his side 18-13 ahead after 66 minutes.
However, BJ Botha scored his first try in over two years, converted by Keatley, and Munster’s greater experience ultimately told in a real grandstand finish.
Munster's Andrew Conway attempts to break the tackled by Rob Harley of the Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12! pic.twitter.com/YOFs86Bhqe— Sportsfile (@sportsfile) October 2, 2015
The hosts held the early initiative but failed to profit from a couple of lineout opportunities and the Warriors duly scored from their first visit to the Munster 22 via Clegg’s 12th-minute penalty.
A Munster surge on the back of successive scrum penalties set up the leveller from Keatley but Glasgow continued to make headway with their high tempo play until Jack O’Donoghue won a relieving ruck penalty.
Gerhard van den Heever had a free-flowing try ruled out for a slight knock-on from Mark Chisholm, but the penalties were beginning to stack up against the Scots, particularly at the scrum where 20-year-old tighthead D’arcy Rae endured a difficult night.
Glasgow then lost blindside Holmes to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul five metres out, and from the ensuing drive CJ Stander and Chisholm burrowed up close before O’Callaghan reached over for a simple try which Keatley converted.
The 14-man Warriors knuckled down again with Grayson Hart getting his lively back-line moving, and two crisp place-kicks from Clegg closed the gap to a single point before Keatley replied with a monster effort in first-half injury time.
The Munster out-half fluffed his lines by missing an easier kick on the resumption and Glasgow, with teenage lock Scott Cummings and man-of-the-match Adam Ashe carrying strongly, edged back in front courtesy of a quick-fire Clegg brace.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) October 2, 2015
Gregor Townsend’s supremely fit side – missing 21 players on Rugby World Cup duty – built further pressure, eking out another three-pointer which Clegg slotted for an 18-13 lead before he missed a difficult 46-metre shot from the right.
The second-half penalty count was 7-2 against Munster at that stage but the impact of their bench, and the front row trio of Botha, Mike Sherry and Dave Kilcoyne in particular, was hugely important in the context of such a tight game.
Kilcoyne’s ball-carrying grunt was in full effect as Munster went the direct route, chipping away at the Glasgow defence during a 20-phase attack that finished with prop Botha piling over to the right of the posts in the 66th minute.
Keatley’s conversion was cancelled out eight minutes later when Mike Blair fed Clegg for a well-struck drop goal and a 21-20 advantage.
However, Glasgow were punished for going offside by Keatley’s penalty and James Eddie’s yellow card for taking Andrew Conway out in the air signalled the end for the Scots.
Shaun Cronin, head sports reporter at breakingnews.ie, speaking with Simon Lewis, golf and rugby correspondent with the Irish Examiner, about Ireland’s clash with Italy in the RWC. Video by Dan Linehan.