RESILIENT Munster moved top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table with a precious 13-6 victory over Glasgow Warriors in the top-of-the-table clash at Scotstoun this Friday night.
Out-half JJ Hanrahan turned in a Man of the Match display for Munster, scoring all 13 of the visitors points, including a decisive second half try.
However, despite Hanrahan’s scoring exploits, Munster had to produce a sterling defensive play in the second period before finally inflicting a first defeat of the campaign on the previously unbeaten Warriors.
Munster were dealt a blow just before kick-off when second-row Paul O’Connell was forced to cry off with a calf strain. His place in the engine room went to Billy Holland. Both Munster coach Rob Penney and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt will be keeping their fingers crossed that the injury doesn’t cause the talismanic second-row to miss any further gametime. Keith Earls was also an absentee from the selected Munster side as he irritated a tendon in his knee in training in the lead up to the game.
Despite dominating possession and territory, Glasgow found themselves level with their visitors after 21 minutes as JJ Hanrahan kicked Munster level with a penalty following Duncan Weir’s successful kick for the home side.
In a tight and cagey affair, every opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking proved crucial and that’s exactly what Weir did for Glasgow on 25 minutes as he struck over his second penalty to make it 6-3 on the 22 right in front of the posts.
After the interval JJ Hanrahan enjoyed an inspired opening seven minutes to the second-half - first he darted over for the opening score of the game, which he converted after a period of Munster pressure.
And then minutes later he left Glasgow with a mountain to climb as he struck over a penalty to turn the screw on the home side and leave the score at 13-6.
Glasgow refused to wave the white flag though and after a period of sustained pressure in the Munster 22 in which they just couldn’t quite get over the line - James Cronin was sin-binned for the visitors.
The home side turned down a kick at goal in favour of a scrum, with a numerical advantage but still they couldn’t break down brave Munster defending.
Glasgow enjoyed an avalanche of territory and possession in the second 40 minutes but they just couldn’t finish a killer pass to down Munster.
Next up for new League leaders Munster is the visit of the Ospreys to Thomond Park on Saturday, November 2 at 7.15pm. Out-half
SCORERS - Glasgow: Duncan Weir two pens. Munster: JJ Hanrahan try, con, two pens
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Sean Maitland; Mark Bennett, Byron McGuigan, Sean Lamont, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter (capt); Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Tyrone Holmes, Josh Strauss. Replacements used: Dougie Hall, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Jon Welsh, Tom Ryder, Chris Fusaro, Niko Matawalu, Ruaridh Jackson, Gabriel Ascarate.
MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Andrew Conway, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Sean Dougall, CJ Stander.
Replacements: James Downey for Conway (48 mins), Dave Kilcoyne for Dougall (52 mins), Damien Varley for Sherry, BJ Botha for Archer (both 57 mins), James Coughlan for Stander, Sean Dougall for Cronin (both 61 mins), Cronin for Dougall (65 mins).
REFEREE: Ian Davies (Wales)