Ref makes it hard for Munster

Munster 25 Glasgow 19

He handled the World Cup quarter-final in Melbourne in 2003 in which France beat Ireland and has a reputation as one of the best officials in the world.

However, not a man or woman left Thomond Park last night after Munster's unimpressive 25-19 Celtic League victory over Glasgow satisfied that he is the man to take charge of next Sunday's Ireland-England game at Lansdowne Road.

Even allowing for the substandard nature of what was unfolding around him, the South African enraged the teams and the crowd with a string of bewildering penalty decisions.

Eddie O'Sullivan would be wise to discuss his interpretation of the breakdown and other laws with Mr Kaplan in advance of Sunday next.

For all that, this was another poor Munster display and even their most blinkered supporters must wonder where their season is going.

Trevor Hogan was named man of the match and deservedly so, but the pack as a whole failed to exert their anticipated supremacy.

Two early penalties by out-half Calvin Howarth put Glasgow on a solid footing and even though Paul Burke pulled back three points for Munster, the visitors struck again with a fine try by second-row Dan Turner.

Howarth converted to make it 13-3 for Glasgow and at this point Kaplan was finding fault with just about everything Munster were doing.

On 19 minutes, he awarded them a rare penalty on halfway, only to immediately reverse the decision because of an apparent bit of back-chat.

Howarth hit the post with his kick and found the target a few moments later, only to miss twice more before the interval. However, the indifference of the Munster performance could not be entirely laid at the door of the referee.

Despite fielding 11 internationals, seven of them up front, they looked disjointed and rusty.

"You must remember that many of these guys hadn't played together since last November," pointed out Alan Gaffney, who admitted "they made things very hard for themselves."

The second half began more brightly for Munster with Burke landing a penalty within a minute and Donncha O'Callaghan taking a superb two -handed catch from the re-start.

On 52 minutes Alan Quinlan claimed a spectacular line-out take at the back and the maul was rolled for a good 15 metres before Quinlan himself claimed the touchdown.

Burke added the points, putting Munster in front for the first time.

Rob Henderson, in as a replacement for Jason Holland, split the Glasgow defence before delivering a perfect pass to James Storey to score between the posts. Burke converted.

Mr Kaplan yellow-carded David Wallace for a professional foul before Howarth narrowed the gap to 25-19 with another penalty.

As for the Munster bonus, it never really looked like happening.

MUNSTER: C Cullen; J Kelly, J Storey, J Holland, A Horgan; P Burke E Reddan; M Horan, F Sheahan capt, G McIlwham, T Hogan, D O'Callaghan, A Quinlan, D Leamy, D Wallace. Replacements: R Henderson for Holland 66 mins; J Williams for Leamy 70; P Devlin for Storey 79.

GLASGOW: C Shaw; R Lamont, G Morrison, S Barrow, G Maclure; C Howarth, G Beveridge; K Tkachuk, S Lawson, A Kelly, J Beardshow, D Turner, S Swindall, C Mather capt, P Dearlove. Replacements: A Henderson for Barrow 50 mins; B Prescott for Kelly 51 mins; A Hall for Beardshaw 63.

Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa).

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