As I thawed out in the supporters club bar after the game, enjoying a slice of free pizza, wondering what I would write this week after several people had wished me well finding the positives, the New Zealand v Georgia game provided inspiration. Even Dan Carter was having a relatively bad day, passes were going astray and despite scoring 7 tries the All Blacks under-whelmed. A Georgian player even won the Man of the Match award! So ok Munster did not score 7 tries so maybe it is the Japan v South Africa game that provides the more appropriate comparison (or Ireland v Italy!). The Japanese were complete underdogs but they raised their game and by the time South Africa realised how much trouble they were in it was too late! Given Glasgow were missing up to 20 players at the rugby world cup, many of us expected a try-fest from Munster. Maybe the players subconsciously did also and they had opportunities but like the All Blacks some passes went behind the supporting player or were fumbled like there was a dew on the ball. Too many penalties conceded also gave Glasgow plenty of possession and momentum. While I don’t recall Glasgow threatening the Munster tryline they kept the scoreboard ticking over and almost claimed a valuable away win.
The scrum was the best of the set pieces, and won several penalties but the lineout malfunctioned several times putting Munster on the back foot – the stats show 4/14 lost which was very unexpected. The possession stats show Munster with 48% in the first half and only 41% in the second half.
A penalty for not rolling away was awarded against Foley giving Glasgow the first points on the scoreboard 0-3 after 12′, but sadly it came from a penalty to Munster (from a good scrum) being kept out of touch by #14 Bulumakau who counter-attacked. A great break by Conway which was then taken on by Keatley led to the first points for Munster after 19′ when Keatley converted a penalty as it was Glasgow’s turn to infringe at the breakdown.
Five minutes later, Gerhard van den Heever thought he was in for a try but the TMO was asked to look at the fumble when Cronin had to adjust to take the pass or it may have been a knock on by Chisholm before it got to Cronin but whichever it was the try was not awarded to our disappointment. It had been a great passage of play by Munster leading up to that involving Jones, Conway, O’Callaghan, Keatley, Williams, Keatley, Stander, Bleyendaal, Chisholm, Cronin, O’Donoghue and van den Heever so it would have been a super score if it had stood.
A few minutes later a scrum infringement earned Glasgow a warning from the referee and David Johnston stepped up and with a great left boot put the team into the perfect position to launch an attack on the 5m line. The Glasgow #6 Tyrone Holmes got a yellow card for collapsing the resultant maul. From the next lineout the maul was set, even Conway joining in! Chisholm and Stander picked and went before Dave O’Callaghan crashed over the line and Ian Keatley converted to make it 10-3 after 27′.
Another penalty awarded against Foley (who rolled away the wrong way and made contact with their scrum half) made it 10-6.
Felix Jones ran back a ball and got penalised for holding on when tackled to make it 10-9 after 38′ allowing Glasgow to almost cancel out the Munster try while down to 14! Shane Monahan replaced Jones who was injured in the process.
However just before the break Ian Keatley nailed a penalty kick from almost the halfway line out by the west side to give Munster more of a breathing space at 13-9. The look on the face of the young fellow who shouted out “G’wan Munster” before the kick only to be hushed was priceless. He was waiting with the minis to run onto the pitch and was not aware of our tradition of silence for the kicker. Even a commentator up behind us had been hushed earlier in the game as we could clearly hear him speaking as the Glasgow player Rory Clegg lined up a penalty!
There seemed to be an increase in intensity when the game restarted. A great turnover was the reward for David Johnston and Tyler Bleyendaal when they double teamed a tackle. Johnston also put in a great chase and tackle a few minutes later when he set off after a garryowen by Keatley but the resultant penalty – earned when Stander was grappling for the ball and the Glasgow player failed to release – refused to curl inside the upright.
The referee seemed to find plenty to penalise Munster for in a ten minute spell as he awarded penalties on 51, 55 and 60 minutes for not rolling away (even though Foley was making great effort to squirm out of the ruck), going off their feet and handling in the ruck, all of which were converted by Rory Clegg to put Glasgow into the lead (13-18). Munster responded with the second Munster try finished off by BJ Botha after an exciting period of possession by the home team. Special mention to the multiple inputs of Dave Kilcoyne in the build up to the try as the pack took it up before Tyler Bleyendaal nearly made it to the line. BJ was there to take it on and over he went for his third try in 103 appearances! Why the TMO was needed to review it I am not sure but it put Munster back into the lead when Keatley converted it.
However, a drop goal with less than 6 minutes left put Glasgow back in front. Munster again worked their way back into the opposition half and when Glasgow went offside after a good break by van den Heever and Monahan, Ian Keatley stepped up to restore the narrow lead – nailing the pressure kick.
Andrew Conway was very impressive in attack all evening and in particular showed great athleticism leaping to claim the high ball on several occasions. The stats show he ran 87m in total and when he was tackled in the air claiming another garryowen in the closing phases it led to a second yellow card for Glasgow as James Eddie was sent to the bin. That penalty enabled Munster to move back into the Glasgow half, making it difficult for the visitors to score again. As the clock ticked down Conor urged them to walk, not run to take the subsequent lineout! They held onto possession, mauling down the clock and there was a sense of relief when the final whistle blew. Munster will need to up their intensity, accuracy and discipline to achieve their European ambitions and I expect to see a big step in that direction for their next game, in Cork in 2 weeks time.
MUNSTER: F Jones capt; A Conway, D Johnston T Bleyendaal, G van den Heever; I Keatley, D Wulliams; J Cronin, D Casey, S Archer, M Chisholm, D Foley, Dave O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.
Replacements: S Monahan for Jones 39; M Sherry for Casey 44; BJ Botha for Archer 51; C Sheridan for Williams 55; D Kilcoyne for Cronin 56; R Copeland for Chisholm 56; R Scannell for Bleyendaal 74.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: R Hughes; J Bulumakau, H Blake, F Lyle, L Jones; R Clegg, G Hart; A Allen, P MacArthur, D Rae, R Harley capt, S Cummings, T Holmes, C Fusaro, A Ashe.
Replacements: Z Fergusson for Rae 19-27; K Low for Cummings 56; M Blair for Hart and J Eddie for Holmes, both 62; J Yanuyanutawa for Allen 69; F Scott for McArthur 72; G Hunter for Fusaro 75.
Highlights video clip provided by Sky.
TG4 highlights are here
The 6pm kick-off (due to the RWC) did not suit a lot of supporters, hence only 5,183 were in attendance although more tickets were sold due to season ticket sales. When the choir joined the teams on the pitch pre-match Kevin joked that there were more on the pitch than on the terraces! I had managed to get down to Limerick after 4 so I had time to pop into Junior Franklins to get a new pair of MBTs – Junior remembered me from my last visit, the day when Munster Beat Toulouse! I told him I find the curved solesshoes very comfortable when at my standing desk. Not sure if I am being a trend setter or a fad follower with the standing desk but hopefully it will be good for my back.
As I approached Thomond on foot I met the paramedics and was surprised that Pat recognised me. He told Graham that I was always on the west terrace so I had to tell him about the blog. Maybe he’ll check it out. I asked if they go to the games for work so they told me that they work in the Fire brigade and volunteer at the games, I think they said through the red cross. It was nice to have a chat with them anyway.
There was a reunion with the regular West Terracers who had made it along, Kevin and Joan, Conor, Tony and Imelda. I enjoyed being much closer to the action than I had been at Wembley, close enough to identify the players and shout encouragement – “great tackle Duncan”, “well done David and Tyler” when they won a turnover etc. It was great to join in “Stand Up and Fight” when Kevin launched into it in response to Glasgow taking the lead in the second half. No Mexican waves to distract us from the action either this week!
I was disappointed not to witness the presentation of royalties from the Guinness ad featuring the team of 1978 who defeated the All Blacks. Apparently it was done in the Presidents Suite. I had asked Imelda about the beneficiary St. Munchins Community Centre and was impressed by all the great work she told me that they do.
So 3 games played and 12 points secured in the league table with plenty of room for improvement in this disjointed start to the season. We are spoilt for choice with all the rugby on TV these weeks, I hope Ireland have a great campaign and that our Munster boys come back to us fit and well with a bounce in their step.