United Rugby Championship: Five takeaways from Glasgow Warriors v Munster as early resolve key to Irish province’s victory

·5-min read
Graham Rowntree Credit: Alamy
Graham Rowntree Credit: Alamy

Following Munster’s 14-5 United Rugby Championship (URC) quarter-final victory over Glasgow Warriors, Planet Rugby selects five takeaways from the action.

Munster seal epic win but it comes at a cost

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A semi-final meeting with rivals Leinster awaits Munster after this hard-fought and spirited victory over an in-form Glasgow Warriors side at Scotstoun Stadium.

It wasn’t pretty, as much of this win was down to gritty, prolonged defensive work, but in high-pressure knockout rugby, that’s what is needed and what they did.

However, the triumph has certainly come at a cost, as it is possible that Munster will be without Peter O’Mahony, RG Snyman, Conor Murray and Calvin Nash in Dublin after the quartet were taken off during the contest. Diarmuid Barron also left the pitch, and those absences would be a significant blow next week at Leinster.

No doubt the medical team will be working hard during the week, but it didn’t look good for the majority of the aforementioned stars, as the win came at a cost.

Munster’s early resolve crucial in this result

The Warriors came out all guns blazing at Scotstoun as they looked to strike early in this quarter-final, turning down a shot at three points as they went in search of the seven. One couldn’t blame Glasgow given how they have been playing of late, as they backed themselves to land an early body blow to their Irish visitors.

Perhaps the Munster of early in the season would have folded under such pressure, but on Saturday, they dug in and kept the Warriors at bay, landing a psychological blow that planted a seed for the rest of the game. Denying them that score and a sustained period of Glasgow attacks thereafter was massive for Munster.

No complaints for red carded Tom Jordan

In truth, it was a simple decision for referee Andrea Piardi and his officiating team as Jordan’s tackle was misjudged, high, with a tucked arm, and made direct contact with Munster scrum-half Murray’s head. The 25th-minute red card came turned the game on its head as Glasgow’s hopes of making the semi-finals were dealt a major blow.

While the decision was straightforward, Piardi’s explanation was on point. He ran through the processes, and while Glasgow fans will feel that the card effectively ended their URC season, the referee was spot on. Jordan had plenty of time to get in a better position, and Murray barely dipped, providing nearly his entire 1.88m frame as a target.

Losing your starting fly-half so early is always troublesome for a team, but it was compounded by Franco Smith’s decision to back a 6-2 split on the bench with Ali Price and Huw Jones. Stafford McDowall and Sione Tuipulotu had bright moments in taking the ball at first receiver, but against such a well-drilled defence, Glasgow desperately needed an out-and-out fly-half.

Munster clearly did their homework

The Glasgow maul has been a fruitful source for tries all season, and even that could not produce on Saturday. The Warriors looked to be steaming towards the whitewash in the 54th minute, but somehow, Graham Rowntree’s charges dragged it to the touchline, and they managed to force a knock on soon after.

Before the hour mark, Munster had made well over 100 tackles, and while they did miss plenty, the defence bent but crucially did not break.

Prop Jeremy Loughman emptied the tank making well over 18 tackles, and was strong in the scrum against the far more favoured Warriors’ pack. Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne were unbelievably busy while Gavin Coombes and Craig Casey weighed in with crucial interventions.

Because of the injuries, the 6-2 split on the bench was a call that paid off as Munster matched Glasgow up front as they gained revenge for their previous meeting six weeks ago.

Peaking at the right time

It’s hard not to look back to the start of Munster’s season, where they last four games in the early rounds. They have well and truly turned the corner since, losing just three URC matches from their remaining 14 fixtures, including one draw.

Rowntree’s charges booked their place in the semi-finals the hard way heading to South Africa, breaking the Stormers’ incredible home record and coming from 19 points down to draw with the Sharks a week later.

Prior to that, they shipped 38 points against Glasgow, but their performances in the latter stages of the tournament have been full of heart, something the side is historically renowned for, and have been able to turn matches into dog fights where they often emerge victorious. 

They have peaked at the right time as they chase their first bit of silverware since 2011, but they face a tough road to the final with Leinster and potentially another trip to South Africa ahead. Could this be the year the province will celebrate with a trophy? Only time will tell, but they certainly have the quality and heart to do so. 

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Munster frustrate 14-man Glasgow Warriors to book semi-final date with Leinster

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