Hanrahan the fall guy for Munster

Glasgow Warriors 21 Munster 18

Hanrahan the fall guy for Munster

Hanrahan, operating at out-half and the subject of a possible move to Northampton Saints, crowned a solid opening half display when Munster worked extremely hard to make yards with his first try of the season but was guilty of missing two penalties in the second half which turned out to be decisive as they fell to a third defeat in a row.

The net result is that Munster will go into Friday’s showdown with Leinster bidding to prevent equalling their worst run of defeats ever in the professional era.

Conditions weren’t perfect after a morning’s rain and a tricky breeze — Glasgow’s Finn Russell, himself trying to recover from a nightmare against Toulouse, also had difficulty off the tee — but quite what they were like is something we will never know after Hanrahan was pulled from a post-match media gig.

That might have had as much to do with a report on Sky Sports during the match, and welcomed on air by pundit and former Munster flanker Alan Quinlan, that Hanrahan had thrashed out a deal and was staying on. A new contract then, oh yes it is. Oh no, it’s not. With a deftness that was sadly lacking out on the field, Munster moved quickly to confirm that contract negotiations with the Kerryman were “ongoing”.

It was left to lock Billy Holland afterwards to go over the embers of a fire which never really ignited in a poor contest where the level of basic errors — knock-ons, crooked lineouts, forward passes and so on — was at odds with two of the most consistent teams in the league.

Both went into it frustrated by successive losses to French teams in the Champions Cup and neither of them discovered the form and accuracy which has them placed at the top of the Pro12 for most of the season.

Holland said the cause of the defeat was not the missed kicks: “JJ is disappointed with them but that is the nature of the beast. Some days you have them, he got a few good kicks in the first half. We have a big week ahead of us, we just have to rally together and work hard.

“In the second half we made crucial errors, we turned over the ball in their half and they went down and scored points. We didn’t get on the scoreboard in the second half which we needed to do, especially with the wind behind us,” said Holland.

Munster’s workrate in the opening half was admirable, holding Glasgow to 3-3 when Paul O’Connell was binned after referee Leighton Hodges lost patience with a mounting penalty count, but by then Hanrahan had dashed over for the opening try after good driving by John Ryan and Robin Copeland in the build-up.

The lead changed hands six times in the opening half but it was no thriller as the mistakes popped up everywhere.

But Munster put themselves in a great position to hold on to top spot when Copeland finished off good approach work to barge over and Hanrahan added the extras to push Munster 18-9 in front at the break.

Munster were on the back foot from the restart but defended with discipline and held a Glasgow side at bay whose 12-match winning home run in the league looked about to end.

But Glasgow were rewarded for their perseverance when Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa got over after 52 minutes, with Russell converting to shred the lead to just two points.

Hanrahan missed the first opportunity to widen the gap as Munster responded to the concession of the try but he was wide from about 30 metres on the left.

Both sides started emptying their benches before Hanrahan miscued again from a bit further out on the same side, again pulling the ball left of the posts.

Glasgow pounced eight minutes from time when the other lock Jonny Gray got over after good pressure and Munster never looked like saving the day.

“That is the disappointing aspect of it,” said coach Anthony Foley. “We came out in the second half and they came really hard at us and we withstood that. We created some opportunities we didn’t take them to extend our lead. They got a sniff of it with about 20 to go and from there we were on our heels and unfortunately for us, we didn’t finish this one off.

“I won’t say it will be that hard to get up for the Leinster game but it will be about getting down and understanding why we lost and where the opportunities were and making sure we understand that and we can go into the Leinster game and hopefully get a result at home. We need to get back into winning ways,” he added.

No surprise then of word from the Munster dressing room that Christmas is cancelled.

“Someone said in the dressing room already Christmas is cancelled, not that we were going to have much of a Christmas anyway,” added Holland. “We don’t do Christmas really. We keep playing, it is a distraction but we can’t let our focus drift.”

Scorers for Glasgow: Tries: L Nakarawa, J Gray; Conversions: F Russell; Penalties: F Russell (3) Scorers for Munster: Tries: JJ Hanrahan, R Copeland; Conversions: JJ Hanrahan; Penalties: JJ Hanrahan (2).

GLASGOW: P Murchie; S Lamont, R Vernon, P Horne, DTH Van Der Merwe; F Russell, N Matawalu; G Reid, F Brown, E Murray; L Nakarawa, J Gray; R Harley, T Holmes, J Strauss.

Replacements: D Hall for Brown (49), R Wilson for Holmes (54), A Allan for Reid (56), J Welsh for Murray (56), J Downey for Horne (61), T Seymour for Murchie (61), H Pyrgos for Matawalu (66).

MUNSTER: J Murphy; A Conway, P Howard, D Hurley, S Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, C Murray; J Ryan, K O’Byrne, S Archer; B Holland, P O’Connell; P O’Mahony (capt), S Dougall, R Copeland.

Replacements: F Jones for Murphy (5), Dave O’Callaghan for Dougall (38), Donncha O’Callaghan for O’Mahony (47), BJ Botha for Archer (56), I Keatley for Zebo (61), N Scannell for O’Byrne (73), E Guinazu for Ryan (79) Referee: L Hodges (WRU).

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