IAN Keatley’s 76th minute penalty goal helped misfiring Munster to a dramatic 23-21 victory over an understrength Glasgow Warriors side in their Guinness PRO12 clash before 5,183 spectators at Thomond Park on Friday night.
Munster moved up to second place in the PRO12 table, at least overnight, after securing their third win of the campaign in an error-strewn display.
Munster’s only defeat in their last nine PRO12 fixtures was their 31-13 reverse at the hands of Glasgow Warriors in last season’s final in Belfast and, it looked like the Scots would emerge victorious again here when leading 18-13 inside the final quarter.
Munster’s line-out had creaked all night and the home side was on the wrong side of the penalty count.
However, a 70th minute BJ Botha try, converted by Keatley, helped the home side regain the lead at 20-18. The drama was far from done, however, as Glasgow out-half Rory Clegg kicked a smashing drop goal in the 74th minute to go with his six early penalties.
Just as the Munster appeared set to lose their unbeaten start to the season. Keatley saved the home side’s blushes when landing the match-winning penalty goal in the 77th minute from 30 metres out.
Munster led 13-9 at the end of a disappointing first half where Glasgow looked the more threatening with ball in hand.
The sides were level, 3-3, at the end of a lacklustre opening quarter. After a Gerhard van den Heever ‘try’ was chalked off for Munster for a knock-on in the 24th minute, Munster finally bagged the opening five pointer through Dave O’Callaghan’s effort from close range. Keatley converted to push the visitors 10-3 to the good. Glasgow’s cause was not helped by the sin-binning of flanker Tyrone Holmes prior to the touchdown.
Resilient Glasgow fought back bravely and two further penalty goals from out-half Rory Clegg reduced the home side’s lead to a point, 10-9, after 38 minutes.
However, Munster did have the final say in the opening 40 minutes when Keatley landed a smashing penalty kick from just inside the Glasgow half.
Munster’s lead was cut to a single point 10 minutes after the restart after Dave Foley was harshly pinged for not rolling away and Clegg duly landed his fourth penalty goal of the evening. And the out-half had the visitors in front when kicking his fifth penalty in the 55th minute. A further Clegg penalty had the holders 18-13 to the good after the hour mark. Aided by Munster’s faltering line-out. Glasgow were sniffing an upset.
Munster, 1/5 shots to win the game before kick-off rallied to their credit and following a series of powerful ball carries inside the Glasgow ‘22, replacement prop BJ Botha powered over from close range. Keatley’s conversion had Munster two points to the good.
However, if Munster fans thought that was the end of the drama they were mistakes as Clegg kicked his side back into the lead with a sweetly struck drop goal in the 75th minute. However, Keatley maintained Munster’s winning start to the season.
SCORERS: Munster: Dave O’Callaghan, BJ Botha try, Ian Keatley three pens, two cons. Glasgow: Rory Clegg six pens, drop goal.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones (capt); Andrew Conway, David Johnston, Tyler Bleyendaal, Gerhard van den Heever; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, Stephen Archer, Mark Chisholm, Dave Foley, Dave O’Callaghan, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander. Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, Robin Copeland, Jordan Coghlan, Cathal Sheridan, Rory Scannell, Shane Monahan.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Rory Hughes; Junior Bulumakau, Hugh Blake, Fraser Lyle, Lee Jones; Rory Clegg, Grayson Hart; Alex Allan, Pat MacArthur, D’arcy Rae, Rob Harley (capt), Scott Cummings, Tyrone Holmes, Chris Fusaro, Adam Ashe. Replacements: Fergus Scott, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Zander Fagerson, Kieran Low, James Eddie, Mike Blair, Gregor Hunter, Robbie Fergusson.
REFEREE: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)