MUNSTER are back in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup for the first time in three seasons after scoring a gritty 14-12 victory over Glasgow Warriors in a spiky Pool 1 contest at Scotstoun on Saturday evening.
Pool 1 winners Munster can secure home advantage in the quarter-finals by beating Racing 92 in their final fixture at Thomond Park on Saturday next, 5.30pm.
A 73rd minute try from replacement Francis Saili, following a delicious reverse pass from Keith Earls proved crucial in securing Munster’s fourth win in five pool fixtures.
Munster had trailed 9-12 at that stage, but rather than opt for a straight forward kick at goal which would have tied the game, the visitors gambled on going for the corner.
And fortune certainly favoured the brave as Munster stretched the Warriors defence to breaking point before All-Black Saili touched down in the left corner.
Glasgow, who provided stubborn resistance all night, were down to 14 men at that stage following Stuart Hogg’s yellow-carding for a high tackle on Andrew Conway.
This was a hugely intense, feisty, arm wrestle of a contest right through with both defences on top.
Munster have conceded just three tries in five Champions Cup pool games, under the guidance of their South African defence coach Jacques Nienaber, who is in his first season with the province.
The sides had been deadlocked, 6-6, at half-time. Tyler Bleyendaal kicked three penalty goals for Munster, while Finn Russell landed three successful kicks for the Scottish side, with Hogg chipping in with a monster effort from the half way line in the opening half.
SCORERS: Glasgow Warriors: Finn Russell three pens, Stuart Hogg pen. Munster: Francis Saili try, Tyler Bleyendaal three pens.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, Lee Jones; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray (capt), Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss. Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, D'arcy Rae, Matt Fagerson, Chris Fusaro, Grayson Hart, Nick Grigg, Peter Murchie.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Jack O'Donoghue, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Thomas du Toit, Dave Foley, Billy Holland, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Francis Saili.
REFEREE: Luke Pearce (England)