Munster's Pro12 play-off hopes fade

Glasgow Warriors 27 Munster 24: Munster’s chances of reaching the Guinness Pro12 play-offs this season became slimmer after defeat to the defending champions Glasgow Warriors at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock last night.

The visitors were never able to fullly match the pace of Glasgow game, the Scots aided by the artificial surface at their substitute ground, but arguably it was two secondhalf yellow cards that cost Munster the game.

In defeat, Munster can reflect nevertheless on an eye-catching display from their young academy centre Rory Scannell, and impressive performances from the likes of Billy Holland and double try scorer Dave Kilcoyne at the other end of the experience spectrum.

But it was Glasgow who held the ace cards in No.8 Josh Strauss, whose showing last night may have propelled him back into the Scotland starting 15 for Italy and centre Peter Horne, who constantly asked questions in midfield.

Munster can also congratulate themselves for not capitulating after Glasgow’s high- tempo game produced two tries for tighthead prop Sila Puafisi in the opening seven minutes of the match, both converted by out-half Duncan Weir.

Indeed the visitors did not wait long before bouncing back after gaining possession from the restart and moving the ball skilfully, wing Ronan O’Mahony making a timely midfield incision to help build momentum that ultimately gave the visitors’ loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne a try from close range.

Ian Keatley added the conversion before kicking a penalty goal to narrow Glasgow’s lead to just four points.

It was Keatley who set up Munster’s next score: his high kick was taken by Andrew Conway to give the men in red vital possession and, unbelievably, a second try resulted for Kilcoyne, again converted by Keatley.

Ian Keatley kicks a conversion with the help of Tomas O’Leary in Kilmarnock. Photo: INPHO/Craig Watson
Ian Keatley kicks a conversion with the help of Tomas O’Leary in Kilmarnock. Photo: INPHO/Craig Watson

Glasgow had a chance to level the scores, only for Weir to hook a kickable penalty goal. Then from a penalty-created line-out close to the Munster line, Glasgow botched another scoring chance with a poor throw-in, leaving Munster ahead by 17-14 at the conclusion to an exhilarating first half.

Glasgow’s supporters did not have long to wait for further entertainment, as the Warriors opened the second half with pacy play that brought points when Weir, looping round Horne, found a gap in the Munster defence before sprinting over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Munster’s hopes of hitting back then suffered a setback after Tomás O’Leary was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on as Glasgow attempted to move the ball wide.

There was no immediate gain but minutes later Munster conceded a penalty in the shadow of their posts, allowing Weir to add three points to his side’s tally.

From the restart, Glasgow were clumsy with their exit strategy, giving away a penalty. Keatley kicked to the corner and from the lineout, Munster set up a driving maul that ended with replacement hooker Mike Sherry touching down in the corner, Keatley’s fine touchline conversion giving Munster a two-point lead.

Mike Sherry pictured during the warm up at Rugby Park. Photo: Ross Parker / SPORTSFILE
Mike Sherry pictured during the warm up at Rugby Park. Photo: Ross Parker / SPORTSFILE

Yet again Munster were reduced to 14 men, this time prop James Cronin shown the yellow card. In Cronin’s absence, Glasgow applied pressure and from a turnover by Glasgow’s Italian flanker Simone Favaro, Warriors moved the ball left for centre Glenn Bryce to score Glasgow’s bonus point try.

Weir missed the conversion while minutes later Keatley was wide with a drop goal attempt. It was to be Munster’s final scoring attempt, the game ending with Weir inconsequentially missing a penalty kick on the stroke of full-time.

Glasgow scorers:

Tries: Puafisi 2, Weir, G. Bryce. Cons: Weir 2. Pens: Weir.

GLASGOW:

Murchie, Naiyaravoro, G. Bryce, Horne, Lamont, Weir, Price, Reid, Malcolm, Puafisi, Swinson, Nakarawa, Harley, Fusaro, Strauss.

Replacements:

Hart for Price (60), Yanuyanutawa for Reid (53), Fenton for Malcolm (76), Fagerson for Puafisi (53), Peterson for Swinson (65).

Munster scorers:

Tries: Kilcoyne 2, Sherry. Cons: Keatley 3. Pens: Keatley.

MUNSTER:

Conway, Sweetnam, Johnston, R. Scannell, R. O’Mahony, Keatley, O’Leary, Kilcoyne, N. Scannell, J. Ryan, D. Ryan, B. Holland, O’Donoghue, O’Donnell, Copeland.

Replacements:

Bohane for Johnston (72), Williams for O’Leary (66), Cronin for Kilcoyne (45), Sherry for N. Scannell (55), Sagario for J. Ryan (57), Oliver for O’Donnell (45).

Referee:

Ben Whitehouse (Wales).

n Other results

Guinness PRO12:

Ospreys 27, Edinburgh 13; Treviso 19, Newport 17

Aviva Premiership Rugby:

Harlequins 25 Leicester 19

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