Munster extended their current winning streak to six after defeating Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun in round 10 of the Guinness Pro12, but the Thomond Park men had to thank the quick thinking and accuracy of Ian Keatley, whose 77th minute drop goal gave the visitors victory at the death.
The men in red had looked the likely winners in the first half, with a ferociously strong performance by the forwards and unyielding defence that seemed to snuff the life out of Glasgow’s attack. No less impressive was Munster’s offensive game, where Andrew Coway, in particular, at full back was full of inventive running.
Munster led 13-3 at the break and seemed to be set for a comfortable win, only for Glasgow to switch the balance of fortune with two second-half tries, but failure to convert the second of these scores ultimately cost the home side victory.
Munster looked the livelier in the opening exchanges, moving the ball confidently and forcing Glasgow to defend tenaciously, resulting almost inevitably in a penalty award, converted into points by the trusted boot of outside half Keatley.
From the restart, Munster again put Glasgow under pressure, winning a line-out on the Warriors 22m line. From the resultant catch and drive, the Munster forwards advanced the maul and, when the ball was released, Keatley put in a teasing cross kick, contested and missed by both Peter Murchie and Darren Sweetnam, but snapped up by the supporting Andrew Conway.
Keatley converted, but at the other end Peter Horne, after missing with his first penalty attempt, goaled from a second effort.
Glasgow finally looked more purposeful, with a break by inside centre Nick Grigg through midfield, but sadly for Warriors, the move fizzled out without seriously threatening Munster. Worse for Glasgow was an ankle injury to their outside half Horne resulting in replacement Rory Clegg taking the field. Clegg immediately made a contribution with a long penalty kick to touch. At the ensuing line-out, Dave Kilcoyne was penalised and shown the yellow card, but from a potentially dangerous position near their own line the visitors broke free with a surging run from Rory Scannell.
Glasgow countered with a break by Price and then good movement of the ball, only for Mark Bennett to fluff his chip ahead. It was symptomatic of the Warriors’ woes and their inabilty to take advantage of their one-man advantage.
Still down to 14 men, Munster increased their lead with a second Keatley penalty goal to go in at half-time with a 13-3 advantage.
Glasgow tried to narrow the gap early in the second half, but a lost line-out and then a dropped pass did little for the home side’s confidence. More woe came when winger Rory Hughes retired with a leg injury, replaced by Lee Jones.
The game seemed to be stuck in a stalemate and it desperately needed a bit of magic. It was provided by Glasgow’s scrum-half Ali Price, who picked a line from the tail of a line-out to score under the posts, leaving Clegg with an easy conversion.
If one piece of magic lifted the crowd, then a second left them in ecstasy, as Tommy Seymour sent Bennett racing to the line for Warriors’ second try, to give them the lead for the first time.
However, a late drop goal by Keatley restored the lead for Munster with three minutes of play remaining, to deny Glasgow victory
Tries: Price, Grigg. Cons: Clegg. Pens: P. Horne.
Murchie, Hughes, Grigg, Bennett, Seymour, P. Horne, Price, Reid, Brown, Puafisi, Swinson, Harley, Strauss, Fusaro, Wilson.
L. Jones for Seymour (45), Clegg for P. Horne (22), Allan for Reid (51), Flynn for Brown (51), Rae for Puafisi (61), Haupeakui for Strauss (57), McAlpine for Fusaro (78).
Tries: Conway. Cons: Keatley. Pens: Keatley 2. Drop Goals: Keatley.
Conway, Sweetnam, Taute, R. Scannell, R. O’Mahony, Keatley, Williams, Kilcoyne, N. Scannell, J. Ryan, Kleyn, B. Holland, P. O’Mahony, O’Donnell, O’Donoghue.
Goggin for Keatley (78), Toma for Williams (65), Marshall for N. Scannell (78), Archer for J. Ryan (61), D. Ryan for Kleyn (41), Copeland for P. O’Mahony (57), du Toit for O’Donnell (28).
Ospreys 31 Edinburgh 22
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