The Ulster away game in October when we were delighted by Rory Scannell’s late match-winning drop-goal was my last game viewed with MRSC Dublin folks. Since then Munster have been in great form and I have enjoyed attending the home wins against the Ospreys, Maoris and Treviso. Back in Dublin for an away game there was a sense of déjà vu as another drop goal, this time kicked by Ian Keatley secured the 4 points just minutes before the final whistle. It also brought back memories of his drop goal to secure victory at Sale two seasons ago!
Driving home I heard the match report on RTE Radio 2FM and was giving out to hear the Scottish reporter give credit to Jaco Taute for the Munster try (instead of Andrew Conway) and then reading the match reports there seemed to be a lot of confusion regarding whether Bennett or Grigg scored the second Glasgow try and who went off injured for them in the 44th minute – some reports say Seymour but I definitely saw him giving the pass to number 13 for that try so I will go by the Glasgow Warriors report which shows it was their other winger Rory Hughes who had gone off and Mark Bennett who scored the try. Surely they know! Best wishes to Rory and to Peter Horne who was stretchered off in the first half. The wheel-barrow style stretcher was unusual but worked well on the 4G pitch.
I often bemoan the skimpiness of the highlights package provided on the official YouTube channel. I don’t want to just see the ball being grounded for a try, I want to see how they broke through the defence, who contributed to the effort besides the try scorer. If I was the editor I would want to include these Munster highlights from Scotstoun:
- The try itself on 11 minutes will of course feature and Sweetnam did well to bat the ball back for Conway but the lead-up may well be edited out and featured an excellent kick deep into their 22 by Keatley which Glasgow kicked out to concede a lineout throw to Munster in a great field position. The lineout was secured by the captain and the maul formed. Playing with advantage due to a Glasgow infringement Keatley had a free pass to try the cross field kick which came off perfectly. His conversion was also a crucial factor in the win as Glasgow missed a conversion from a similar spot.
- Jean Kleyn at about the 27′ mark: when Killer was in the sinbin (the referee had issued a warned after Jack was penalised for a high tackle and Dave was next to offend for taking out the lifter in the subsequent lineout so off he went.) Glasgow was pressing hard for a try when they opted for another lineout but Jean won a crucial turnover when he came through the centre of the maul the Warriors had set up and won Munster the put-in to the scrum.
- From that scrum Rory Scannell got the ball and moved Munster well away from the danger zone with a characteristic surge upfield. Rory made 62m in the game and has become a mainstay in defence and attack. He also deserves a mention for calling the refs attention to the serious nature of the injury to Rory Hughes in the 44′.
- Andrew Conway’s laser-guided missile tackle at 33 minutes into the game, again during the sinbinning was another shift in momentum towards the 14 man team.
- Two minutes later Rory Scannell was obstructed from competing for his kick ahead and from that penalty Ian Keatley secured three points – an excellent return during the sinbinning period during which time Glasgow failed to score.
- As the clock went past the forty minute mark Glasgow won a penalty in their own half. With no time for a lineout they opted for a scrum to tie up the Munster pack and it almost paid dividends as captain Ryan Wilson charged from the base of the scrum, getting the pass away to Mark Bennett who almost got to the try line. However Ian Keatley’s try saving tackle ensured a knock on and Munster went into the changing room 3-13 up!
- Peter O’Mahony generally but in particular his competitiveness on the opposition lineout throw which yielded two turnovers, one at a crucial time (30′) during the sinbinning period.
- Ronan O’Mahony had a zebo-esque moment on 52′ – unfortunately it was called back for a forward pass but he had controlled the ball beautifully with his foot, kicking the ball up into his hands!
- Duncan Williams is another upping his game with new rivals coming into the squad. On 62 minutes he blocked down a clearance kick in the Glasgow 22m and was unlucky not to score for his efforts.
- Darren Sweetnam’s one-handed take of a crossfield kick by Glasgow in the 73rd minute as he stretched out to hand behind to take hold the oval ball as if it were a sliotar! Worth watching the replay a few minutes later in the coverage as it has a better angle as per Trevor’s tweet below). He had another good game especially under the high ball and seems to relish the physicality too as he wrestled Bennett into touch at the 51′ mark.
- Ian Keatley’s drop goal was sweetly struck and resulted from great pressure as Munster won a lineout in the Glasgow 22m. Jack secured the ball, the maul drove forward, then when it collapsed centurion Tommy took it on and then Stephen Archer brought play in towards midfield to give Keats a better angle. He had moved back into the pocket and slotted his kick between the posts to secure the win.
- Not surprisingly, with Nigel Owens in charge it is always worth listening to his instructions as he encouraged the scrumhalves to try to feed the scrum “a bit more in the middle” and warned the captains about players complaining and pulling guys into the ruck to try to secure a penalty. He would have none of that poor sportsmanship and warned he would card players doing it.
- Of course the Glasgow version would be different and would include the try by man of the match Ali Price who kicked off their revival after the hour mark, taking advantage of a Munster mistake at a lineout and evading multiple tackles in the 6 seconds it took to get in to score beside the post. Their second try was almost a length of the field effort and they had several breaks of note in both halves.
It was superb to take the 4 points from this tough fixture and it will serve as an appetiser for the January visit in the European Cup while focus turns now to the more pressing matter of Leicester’s visit next weekend! The red line of defense continued to soak up so much pressure; yes there were some missed tackles resulting in Glasgows two tries and a few other line breaks. There are things to work on next week but with CJ, Conor, Simon and Keith to return there are some definite selection headaches for the management team to manage their resources through the next 7 weekends of action with 5 European and 2 Inter-pros to navigate. It is great to have such depth in so many positions and that will only drive the standards on higher. The prospect of Irish caps during the summer Japan tour for those not selected for the Lions tour is another incentive. Billy Holland wrote in his player diary that he does not want to be a one cap wonder and the way he is playing (top tackle count again in this game) he could well be in contention during the Six Nations or indeed for the Lions.
Congrats to the latest centurion – Tommy O’Donnell – who fittingly kicked the ball out of play in Scotsoun – but does anyone know why he no longer wears his scrumcap?
GLASGOW: Peter Murchie, Rory Hughes (Lee Jones ’43); Mark Bennett, Nick Grigg, Tommy Seymour, Peter Horne (Rory Clegg ’22); Ali Price, Ryan Wilson, Chris Fuscro (Rob Alpine ’79), Josh Strauss (Langilangi Haupeaukui ’57), Tim Swinson, Rob Harley, Sila Puafisi (D’Arcy Rae ’60, Fraser Brown (Corey Flynn ’50), Gordon Reid (Alex Allan ’50).
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway, Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony, Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams (Te Aihe Toma ’64), Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell (Thomas Tu Toit [temporary substitution] ’33); Peter O’Mahony (captain) [Robin Copeland ’56], Billy Holland, Jean Kleyn (Donnacha Ryan half-time); John Ryan (Stephen Archer ’60), Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne.
Link to the game on the TG4 player (here is the link to BBC Alba for those in the UK) The official highlights video as expected does not include many of the points I called out above, especially the great work done during the sinbinning:
Below are the stats from the ESPN site
Thanks for the kind comments last week, which were as ever much appreciated. Longer term readers might remember Eilis and Dermot whose company I used to enjoy every Friday when I dropped in to them with their meals on wheels. Both have now moved into a nursing home in Harolds Cross so I called in to see them on my way into the city to watch the game. Eilis has celebrated her 80th birthday and was sorry she did not have a glass of champagne to offer me! Dermot was delighted to show me his painting included in the calendar featuring the work of the painting club at the centre and given the shake in his hands from Parkinsons it is incredible that he managed to paint the straight lines in the striped deck chair below.