Glasgow sent out a massive statement of intent to the rest of the Pro 14 league with an emphatic five try victory over a Munster side who struggled to cope with the speed and expansive play of their hosts. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects on the action.
Dave Rennie arrived to Glasgow in the off-season with a glowing reputation; a coach whose expansive style complemented the style implemented by his predecessor Gregor Townsend. If this is the performance levels with a depleted squad, the rest of the Pro 14 and ERC teams should be worried.
This was a performance full of invention and work rate. Glasgow won the contact area all night and Munster struggled to slow any ruck ball in the opening period. Sarto got the ball rolling with a superb opening try. Munster stretched to breaking point defensively as Glasgow stayed patient, throwing the ball around from side to side. Sarto evaded a poor Munster first tackle to score. Ominous signs for Munster as Finn Russell added the extras.
Like last weekend, Munster were asked to answer early game minute questions and they responded with a quick try of their own. Rory Scannell scoring his first try of the season; good finish powering over from the corner. The key point from Munster was the decision to put Scannell on penalty kicking duties. Bleyendaal has struggled in recent weeks but it was a surprise to see Scannell kicking from the tee. A regulation penalty miss from Scannell set the tone for the rest of the evening from a Munster perspective.
The hosts deservedly scored their second try of the night with a sweeping move which Jones went over; the move started eighty meters out and Munster’s video analysis should be scathing on the line speed and defensive decision making which unfolded for this try concession. Russell again took care of the extras and after a competitive opening thirty minutes, Glasgow were up by fifteen points. Munster needed to respond.
Glasgow Warriors started the second half as they started the first half and Grigg emerged with the ball for the third try straight after the resumption. Munster again lacking physicality in the contact area as easy yards were gained in the lead-up to the try. Munster’s video analysis sessions will be a horror show on Monday. Glasgow were wholly dominant and they started to pass the ball with sheer abandon. Cue Chris Farrell to intercept and score Munster’s try.
Credit to Munster and new signing Chris Farrell’s game reading was key in touching down early into the second half. The conversion was again missed and no significant pressure was applied by Munster thereafter as Glasgow were unerring in their execution of an expansive game plan. Munster were under the cosh, tackle count was getting high and line breaks would surely come for the hosts. Enough said. The avalanche started in earnest as soon as Billy Holland was sin binned.
Cummings’ try and the crucial bonus point was secured on sixty-three minutes. Munster defensive first tackles had left the arena as Sarto broke out of seven Munster wannabe tackles. Cummings was clinical and scored from close range. Munster were routed; memories of the Scarlets Pro 12 final streaming back. Munster were unable to compete with a team who were precise in their attacking lines; exposing Munster’s defensive cover from side to side with devastating results.
If the evening could not get any worse for Munster, substitute Fineen Wycherley was given his marching orders for a shoulder charge. Glasgow Warriors were already out of sight and were content consolidating the result than sticking the knife into Munster even further. It was a season defining performance from the Warriors; a sell out crowd, the ambition of the club this season was evident in this cameo, full of invention and with Finn Russell in superb form, the side are well primed to probably top the conference standings as well as have a good tilt at the European Rugby Cup. The result tonight achieved with a lengthy injury list with notable absentees such as Hogg, Russell on the treatment table. Ominous signs.
Munster will not panic over this result but it was a good reality check for the side. The Ospreys contest saw flashes of good play but the defensive line speed issues seen at the Liberty Stadium were even more exposed here. The young squad members got a lesson in playing top quality opposition; it was a struggle from start to finish. The discussion on kicking duties is now an intriguing subplot for Munster. Keatley and Hanrahan will definitely be eyeing up the ten spot. Bleyendaal to his credit has being excellent with ball in hand; his kicking performance has being inconsistent. The New Zealander will be the first to recognize this fact and is not a major issue.
Munster’s next two fixtures are intriguing. Cardiff Blues always run Munster close; last season saw Cardiff Blues deservedly win down in Irish Independent Park and Munster somehow managed to scramble a win in Wales. A team who ran Glasgow close last weekend; Munster will be on their guard for the forthcoming fixture. The loss at Glasgow will focus minds with the Leinster fixture looming large, a team who will look to expose Munster with an expansive game plan. Erasmus has work to do with the side before he leaves in December. Discipline and contact area will be key areas this week. Yes, senior players will now come back into the mix but Munster have being routed by a pacy, expansive tactically focused outfit again. Time to reflect and make the necessary adjustments.