To concede the fastest try in the Rabo all season was not a record Munster aspired to, especially after keeping a clean sheet the previous week. The Glasgow backline contained several players who had starred for Scotland in the recent six nations but I still did not expect them to put 6 tries past Munster, even if three of those were gifted by Munster being predictable, or Glasgow having done their homework on them, resulting in passes being intercepted. To borrow from Oscar Wilde “to lose one (pass) may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness” but what can you say about the third, other than to surmise that a moment of indecision was to blame as Munster desperately chased the game.
The match was played at a furious pace with plenty of passion from both sides. The teams almost came to blows on several occasions. The first Munster try was well-earned after a patient build up of phase after phase of pressure until Casey Laulala crossed the line. The sight of the Munster maul was a welcome reminder of the good ol’ days and delivered 7 points when Killer (Dave Kilcoyne) scored and Ronan O’Gara converted to take the lead 7-14 but that was quickly cancelled out after the second intercept try, scored by Glasgow’s lively scrum half. At half time trailing by 6 points the task did not seem insurmountable and Munster scored first to reduce the deficit to 3 points after the break. However when Glasgow upped their game for the final quarter Munster could not live with them. The only Munster highlight was when Felix Jones made a good break and released Doug Howlett to score in the corner, albeit at full stretch as the Glasgow defender tried to bundle him into touch. Ian Keatley did well to convert the try from the touchline.
The expression “the only way is up” is totally true this week as Munster prepare for their Heineken Cup quarter-final in London next Sunday. The underdog tag will be appropriate but it would take a performance comparable to the legendary exploits of the team in the last decade to qualify for a semi-final in France at the end of April. Coach Rob Penney has a lot to work on to ensure all are physically, psychologically and tactically prepared for the Harlequins challenge. Hopefully Zebo will come through contact training this week and bring his Z factor, while the team should also be boosted by the return of Irish internationals Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and hopefully Donnacha Ryan who picked up a shoulder injury during the six nations.
The Red Army will do it’s part. They will be loud and proud and especially RED. Tickets are being sourced from anywhere and everywhere to boost the 3,700 allocated to Munster. While we will travel more in hope than in expectation we will do our bit to minimise Harlequin’s home advantage at the Stoop. The 16th man is needed more than ever so novenas will be said by some while others will ensure they travel with their lucky underpants or follow the routine which has brought success in the past. “To the brave and faithful, nothing is impossible.” Time to “Stand up and Fight” one more time and show that we are a better team than our current league position indicates.
Best wishes also to the Munster A team in the British and Irish Cup quarter-final next weekend as they seek to retain their title.
A 2 minute clip of highlights (mainly Glasgows) from the game is available =http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOJYUX8wtfM
Munster: F Jones; D Howlett, C Laulala, J Downey (I Dineen 57th min), J Murphy; R O’Gara (I Keatley 57th min), D Williams (C Sheridan 53rd min); D Kilcoyne (W du Preez 63rd min) , M Sherry (D Varley 57th min), BJ Botha (S Archer 54th min); Donncha O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (B Holland 74th min); P Butler (N Ronan 63rd min), T O’Donnell , J Coughlan.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; S Maitland, S Lamont, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe; R Jackson, N Matawalu; R Grant, P MacArthur, J Welsh, T Swinson, A Kellock capt, J Strauss, J Barclay, R Wilson. Replacements: D Hall, O Fainga’anuku, M Low, T Ryder, R Harley, H Pyrgos, D Weir, M Bennett