Anthony Foley ‘hugely disappointed’ with result as Munster let it slip away

Munster drop down to third as Glasgow Warriors come to life in second half

Glasgow Warriors’ Jonny Gray goes over for the winning try in the Guinness Pro12 clash against Munster at  Scotstoun. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Inpho

Glasgow Warriors’ Jonny Gray goes over for the winning try in the Guinness Pro12 clash against Munster at Scotstoun. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Inpho

 

Glasgow Warriors 21 Munster 18

Munster will go into their Guinness Pro12 match against Leinster on Friday determined to address the reasons for a second-half performance that allowed Glasgow Warriors to overturn a half-time advantage in Saturday’s game at Scotstoun.

Anthony Foley’s men had established a comfortable 18-9 advantage at half-time but against a resurgent Glasgow side, Munster conceded 12 unanswered second-half points to give the Warriors victory.

The defeat to Glasgow and the result of the match between Ospreys and Ulster, in a stroke, knocked Munster off their top-of-the-table perch and into third place in the table. But in a tight league, slipping from first to third is hardly a mortal blow and what matters come May is securing a place in the top four play-offs.

Munster’s head coach, Anthony Foley, was terse but to the point in his summation of his side’s performance. “We didn’t take our opportunities in the second half. This was a hugely disappointing result.”

If the second half proved to be the flat zone for Munster then for Glasgow Warriors it was the opposite.

“I think the players knew we hadn’t been accurate enough before the break,” said the Glasgow coach, Gregor Townsend. “We hadn’t defended well enough and we needed to be much better against a quality team. The first five minutes of the second half is what we are all about. We didn’t score any points in that period but we ran hard, we took them on and we defended well. And after that the points came.”

Townsend’s words could well have applied to Munster’s performance in the first half in which the visitors scored two tries and eight points from the kicking tee, much of it emanating from direct and straight running with telling contributions from prop John Ryan and scrumhalf Conor Murray.

As a points accumulator outhalf JJ Hanrahan again made his mark with a try, two penalty goals and a conversion, all in the first half. But the golden boot lost its lustre in the second half as Hanrahan missed two kickable penalties. In fairness his opposite number, Finn Russell, also experienced highs and lows off the tee and had the Glasgow youngster succeeded with late conversion and penalty attempts, Munster would have been denied their bonus point.

Yet in spite of fullback Johne Murphy being forced to leave the field after breaking his nose, and losing Paul O’Connell to the sin-bin, it was Munster who were in command in the first half, albeit that Glasgow had opened the scoring with a penalty goal by Russell.

Munster hit back with timely efficiency with an unconverted try from Hanrahan created by a powerful run by Ryan support from number eight Robin Copeland and quick ball from Murray. The lead changed once more as Russell hit his second penalty only for Hanrahan to reply in kind.

The oscillations in advantage continued as Russell and Hanrahan exchanged penalty goals giving Munster a 11-9 lead. But then a clever grubber kick from Hanrahan forced Glasgow’s totemic scrumhalf, Niko Matawalu, into touch.

From the attacking lineout Munster worked through the phases before Copeland found a gap in the middle of the breakdown to score a timely try, Hanrahan’s conversion giving the men in red a satisfying 18-9 half-time lead.

And that should have provided Munster with the base on which to build a more substantial lead. But instead the platform proved to be less solid than it seemed, Glasgow’s increased tempo in the second half resulting in a try for Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa, converted by Russell, and six minutes from full-time the winning touchdown from fellow second row and man-of-the-match Jonny Gray.

Scoring sequence – 6 mins: Russell penalty, 3-0; 7: Hanrahan try, 3-5; 18: Russell penalty, 6-5; 26: Hanrahan penalty, 6-8; 29: Russell penalty, 9-8; 36: Hanrahan penalty, 9-11; 40: Copeland try, Hanrahan conversion, 9-18. Half-time 9-18. 51: Nakarawa try, Russell conversion, 16-18; 72: Gray try, 21-18 .

GLASGOW WARRIORS: P Murchie; S Lamont, T Vernon, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe; F Russell, N Matawalu; G Reid, F Brown, E Murray; L Nakarawa, J Gray; R Hartley, T Holmes, J Strauss.

Replacements: D Hall for Brown (47 mins), R Wilson for Holmes (54 mins), J Welsh for Murray, A Allan for Reid (both 57 mins), T Seymour for Lamont, J Downey for Horne (both 61 mins), H Pyrgos for Matawalu (67 mins), T swinson for Nakarawa (74 mins).

MUNSTER: J Murphy; A Conway, P Howard, D Hurley, S Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, C Murray; J Ryan, K O’Byrne , S Archer; Holland, P O’Connell; P O’Mahony, S Dougall , R Copeland.

Replacements: F Jones for Murphy (4 mins), Dave O’Callaghan for Dougall (38 mins), Donncha O’Callaghan for O’Mahony (47mins), BJ Botha for Archer (57 mins), I Keatley for Zebo (63 mins), N Scannell for O’Byrne (74 mins), E Guinazu for Ryan (80 mins).

Referee: L Hodges (Wales).

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