It was intense, it was unrelenting, end to end action, full of physicality with exclamations of “Wow” at some of the skills on display and groans/cheers at the errors depending on which side made them! Glasgow travelled to Cork in search of a crucial away win to salvage their league play-off ambitions. Hence, despite a short turnaround since their European quarter-final loss they threw everything at the meanest defence in the league and got little return. It was a real arm wrestle despite the speed and attacking threat of both backlines. Superb defence and pressure exerted by both sides kept this, their fourth meeting this season to another one score game (10-7 (H), 12-14 (A), 15-16 (A) and 38 -17(H)). Tackle after tackle drove the visitors backwards and eventually saw them sent “homeward, Tae think again”
I am glad that we won’t have a fifth encounter with them this season as their loss leaves it between the Ospreys, Ulster and Scarlets to fight it out to join Munster and Leinster in the top 4. Indeed before kick-off on a lovely evening in Cork had come the good news from Swansea of a narrow Leinster victory to give Munster a firmer grip on second place in the table and edges them closer to a home semi-final.
There was great colour at the game in Cork, including men in kilts and some great pipers which greatly added to the atmosphere at a sold out Irish Independent Park. Before, during and after the game they were piping out tunes which were much more melodic than the chants of “We are Warriors”, although I could not hear Darren O’Shea’s pre-game pitchside interview and the piper also drowned out the choir at one stage as we were so close to him!
From the start the physicality was noticeable, including the newest recruit Jean Deysel, who was prominent in the loose, showing his great strength in the tackle and maul. Alex Dunbar was an early recipient of a hand-off from him in the opening few minutes.
While a knock-on gave Glasgow the put-in to the subsequent scrum the Munster defensive line was in their face with Conor Oliver making the tackle on their #8 (Ashe) with the support including Tyler Bleyendaal arriving to win a turnover deep in the Glasgow 22. Munster then held onto possession and attacked through 12 phases involving the new centre partnership of Jaco Taute and Francis Saili, Dave O’Callaghan, Conor Oliver, Ronan O’Mahony, Stephen Archer, James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Dave O’Callaghan, Jean Deysel, a lovely reverses pass from Tyler to Darren Sweetnam, Dave O’Callaghan again before it was finished off by James Cronin and converted by Tyler Bleyendaal all in the opening 5 minutes. If you had predicted no more scores for another 55 minutes we would have been surprised!
A penalty for pulling back Sweetnam was kicked to touch. Unfortunately the throw went beyond Billy’s reach. When Tyler dived in to rescue possession he was tackled and worryingly stayed down and was surrounded by three of the medical team. When he was carefully raised to a sitting position we were relieved. We clapped as he walked off to be replaced by Rory Scannell making his 50th senior appearance (1 behind Niall). It was good to see on the big screen that Tyler was back on the bench after his HIA during the first half.
Andrew Conway soared to claim the high ball in front of us and then did the same on the opposite side a few minutes later. He also made a big tackle to haul Lee Jones into touch when Glasgow were on the attack in the first half.
There was plenty of action, lots of turnovers and errors as momentum swung one way and then the other. A sublime offload by Hogg put Glasgow into space but Saili got back to gather the kick ahead. Another dropped pass as Glasgow were attacking the Munster 22 was kicked clear by Duncan Williams. Ronan O’Mahony gave chase and kicked it on again but could not get to the ball before Nick Grigg. Still it had taken play away from the danger zone almost to the other 22.
A kick ahead was claimed by Tommy Seymour who was duly bundled into touch by Ronan, Jaco and Duncan on the half way line. Handbags ensued when Duncan went to get the ball and the referee had to issue a threat that cards would be forthcoming if this did not cease.
Peter Horne made a super break from his own 10m line before offloading to Nick Grigg in support who charged deep into Munster territory but a loopy pass when he was tackled was claimed by Darren Sweetnam and Munster went back on the attack. It was Barbarian-esque and very exciting if lacking in accuracy.
It had felt like Munster had bossed the opening half but watching the game back it was Glasgow who edged possession (53%) and territory (see stats below). Still with the strong bench to have an impact I was confident that the home team would prevail. The temperature dropped and we were glad of our coats after the lovely warm day.
Anything Hogg can do we can do too, this time is was Saili with the beautiful offload as he fell. Darren got away the kick ahead under pressure. The bounce just beat Conway and Glasgow knocked on. The bench was launched earlier than we had expected, Peter O’Mahony came on for Jean Deysel and Dave Kilcoyne for James Cronin who seemed to have picked up an injury a few minutes after the restart.
Munster had the put into the scrum in a great position and nearly got a score from their efforts. Instead the ball was held up and Munster had another 5m scrum. It looked like Rory Scannell got to the posts but he was short. Conor Oliver picked and went but the TMO checked to confirm that he was also short and though Jack O’Donoghue got a hand to it he was in the ruck so could not play the ball.
Another great break by Conway six minutes later took play almost to the 5m line but the Glasgow defence scrambled well and won a penalty to ease the pressure.
The Fields of Athenry rang out as 53 minutes as Donnacha Ryan came on for Jack who seemed to be struggling with an injury meaning that the versatile Dave O’Callaghan moved to 8 in the scrum.
Saili had a super break arising from being in the right place to take advantage of a dropped pass but his kick ahead was easily claimed by Tommy Seymour who called the mark. He kicked to touch and from the lineout claimed by Peter, Conor made a break. The ball went backwards and Duncan threaded a pass between two Glasgow players to Taute. Jaco gave an inside pass to Ronan in support and he reached the line despite being tackled by two warriors. It looked fine in real time but in slow motion the ball just slipped from his grasp and therefore he was adjudged not to be in control of the ball.
As a result Glasgow had a scrum on their own 5m line. A tackle by Duncan prevented Ashe breaking from the base of the scrum. Rory and Conor were next to arrive and Glasgow were penalised for not releasing. Rory put the penalty between the posts to move Munster to 10-0 in the 61st minute, a crucial cushion as it transpired.
It took till the 68th minute for Glasgow to get on the scoreboard. Stuart Hogg, Six Nations player of the year kicked ahead from halfway and showed his electric pace. An unkind bounce forced Conway chasing across to cover to turn. The ball bounced up perfectly for Hogg, he did not need to adjust his stride to collect the ball and race in to score. Finn Russell converted and the game was finely balanced again at 10-7 with ten minutes to go.
Awarded another penalty a few minutes later, Glasgow kicked for touch as a draw was no good to them. Billy was penalised for pulling down the maul to give Glasgow another penalty which they again kicked to touch. From that lineout the maul engaged before the jumper was down, leaving Jonny Gray on top of the bodies and another penalty for Glasgow again kicked to touch.
The cheer when there was a knock on by Glasgow in the 75th minute was as if Munster had scored. The scrum was on the Munster 5m line as the clock ticked into the final 4 minutes. Nerves were stretched but we urged them on. The clearance kick failed to find touch, bouncing well for Seymour and Glasgow had another chance to attack. Saili wrapped up Russell and Glasgow could not get into the 22. They did retain possession and as they went through the phases roars of “Munster, Munster” rang out. Discipline was key as another penalty could have resulted in a score and/or a card.
Twenty phases, 21, 22, 23, .. 26 – it was fast, it was furious, the linespeed was impressive after almost 80 minutes of play. There was a roar of jubilation when we spotted a knock on and Niall Scannell dived on the ball. There was still a few seconds to run down on the clock but when it went to 80 the noise levels rose and there was a great cheer when Duncan Williams kicked the ball out of play to finish the game.
Conor Oliver spoke of “picking up the scraps from the fancy lads” in his post match interview on TG4 as he picked up his deserved man of the match award to add to his superb performance for the A team the previous weekend.
The team came over to salute the east terrace for our support. As I watched Jaco I wondered if we would see him in Cork again, his future remains uncertain but we have enjoyed supporting him as much as he has enjoyed our support this season.
Munster: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Francis Saili, Jaco Taute, Ronan O’Mahony (Simon Zebo ’75); Tyler Bleyendaal (Rory Scannell ’9), Duncan Williams; James Cronin (Dave Kilcoyne ’43), Rhys Marshall (Niall Scannell ’50), Stephen Archer (John Ryan ’50); Dave O’Callaghan, Billy Holland; Jean Deysel (Peter O’Mahony ’43), Conor Oliver, Jack O’Donoghue (Donnacha Ryan ’54). Not used: Angus Lloyd
Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg (Rory Hughes ’62), Alex Dunbar (Peter Horne ’17), Lee Jones; Finn Russell, Ali Price (Henry Pyrgos ’70); Gordon Reid (Alex Allan ’54), Fraser Brown (Pat MacArthur ’22), Sila Puafisi (D’arcy Rae ’46); Brian Alainu’uese (Scott Cummings ’67), Jonny Gray; Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson (Chris Fusaro ’54), Adam Ashe.
Stats are on the ESPN site here
The42.ie is here, Irish Independent: here and here while Munster Rugby report is here and Glasgow Warriors report is here. TG4 player will have the full game for the next few weeks on their player which is here.
Some great action shots from MRSC photographer Damien Conway are on their FB page here
Nigel kept warning the lineout players not to go long but to go with a short transfer – I must find out what rule has changed or what he was talking about.
In the video below with man of the match and Academy player Conor Oliver you can hear “O Flower of Scotland” in the background as the pipers were in no rush to leave the grounds.
The social stuff…
I was informed of the rendezvous point over an hour before kickoff when I was only at the Glanmire exit as Tony, Imelda, Ed and Bernie had arrived at 4.30 for the 7.30 kick-off! I stopped to check in with Kevin and Joan that they had also gotten their semi-final tickets. After the game I had a similar chat with Aideen and Judi as the piper played in the background. There was a glitch with the Ticketmaster site in that if you selected say Lower West it showed you had had secured two tickets but did not highlight that those were not in the area you had selected, rather than the normal error message if there was nothing left in a selected area. Anyway the main thing we agreed was that we had tickets and would be there to support the team in such a key game. #MemberBenefits 🙂
Imelda was delighted that she had managed to reschedule a commitment she had made way back in September and would also be there with Tony and two of their family. The ad for MRSC membership was aired again pre-game and at half-time. I expect the demand for tickets for many games this year and for the knock-out games will encourage more to consider taking out membership for next season. Paul was in touch during the week and I was delighted to find out that someone on the terrace near him at the Toulouse game had hushed his friends for that ad and told them that I was the blogger he had been telling them about and that they should check it out! Many thanks whoever you are and to other fans like you, it is word of mouth and sharing on social media that are key to getting enough hits to encourage me to continue. Thanks to Patrick Barry for allowing me to share my blog on his closed Facebook page for Munster Supporters. Remember to check out the blog facebook page WTView for additional photos, links etc. including my recent meeting with ROG when attending a recording for SportsJOE.ie
Tony wanted to plan his Sunday and asked me when he could expect this blog to be available. I explained that when I am in Dublin I can get it out early as I have no distractions but when in Thurles with Dad it would not be fair to him to do the same so it is generally available later. Luckily Dad doesn’t mind watching the game or highlights back with me as I take notes while cooking the dinner and he enjoys seeing my regular TV appearances 😊
It was great to have another full house for the last league game in Cork this season. Hopefully some of those will come along again for the British and Irish Cup Final on Friday April 21st to support the A team against Jersey. Thomond calls next weekend when it will be Ulster’s turn to look to take points off us to help them secure a play-off spot! The players will continue to be brave and we will continue to be faithful!