The home side survived dozens of late attacking phases as Glasgow threw caution to the wind, only to be rebuffed time and again by a dogged though organised Munster wall that helped them retain second place behind Leinster and strengthen their hold on a home semi-final.
Erasmus was as relieved as he was pleased: “We defended very well in the last five minutes, it was a positive. Glasgow put 40 points on Leicester, beat Racing away and we scraped through the previous two games against them, so not to give a penalty away and to put in those tackles against them in the last few minutes was huge.”
The late Glasgow surge wasn’t the only narrative to keep the sellout crowd chattering as they left Musgrave Park. Despite having to endure some anxious moments in the first half Munster could have been out of sight before Stuart Hogg’s 69th minute converted try put the Glaswegians back in the hunt.
Referee Nigel Owens twice went to the TMO in the second half to look at potential Munster tries and ruled both efforts out. Notwithstanding the worry of having had to watch that late struggle, Erasmus was chuffed.
“Glasgow had a team full of Scottish internationals who were playing a quarter-final (Europe) last week so they would have been used to the intensity; we came out of a quarter-final but made all of those changes (10).”
Munster finished the game with a more experienced shape to it but Erasmus had every right to be thrilled that young players such as Conor Oliver grabbed the opportunity to mix it with the big boys.
Oliver was man-of-the-match when Munster A beat Ealing Trailfinders last week to reach the final of the B&I Cup. He got the nod again on Saturday night for an impressive in-your-face display when he and Munster prospered at the breakdown.
Having taken a bit of a gamble, Erasmus noted: “We gave guys game time, people like Conor and others; we can take positives out of this and it doesn’t look like the injury list is too long.”
The walking wounded were Tyler Bleyendaal (concussion) and James Cronin (knee), and though both may miss next Saturday’s derby with Ulster at Thomond Park, they’re not concerns for the Champions Cup semi-final with Saracens.
Bleyendaal played a key role in the build-up to Cronin’s fifth-minute try and the out-half converted to give Munster a great start.
Having lost those two try-scoring chances (Ronan O’Mahony’s failure to ground properly the more frustrating), Munster were consoled with what proved a match-winning 60th-minute penalty from Rory Scannell before Hogg nipped past a hesitant Conway for the try that gave a vocal home support cause for anxiety in the final ten minutes.
A Conway, D Sweetnam, F Saili, J Taute, R O’Mahony, T Bleyendaal, D Williams; J Cronin, R Marshall, S Archer, D O’Callaghan, B Holland (capt), J Deysel, C Oliver, J O’Donoghue.
R Scannell for Bleyendaal (7, injured), P O’Mahony for Deysel, D Kilcoyne for Cronin (both 42), J Ryan for Archer, N Scannell for Marshall (both 49). D Ryan for O’Donoghue (53), S Zebo for O’Mahony (74).
S Hogg, T Seymour, N Grigg, A Dunbar, L Jones, F Russell; A Price, G Reid, F Brown, S Puafisi, B Alainu’uese, J Gray (captain), R Harley, R Wilson, A Ashe.
P Horne for Dunbar (18, inj), P MacArthur for Brown (21, inj), D Rae for Puafisi (45), C Fusaro for Wilson, A Allan for Reid (both 53), N Grigg for Hughes (60), S Cummings for Alainu’uese (67), H Pyrgos for Price (70).
N Owens (Wales).