Glasgow v Munster: 14 man Warriors fall at first URC play-off hurdle

Red-carding of Tom Jordan leaves hosts with a mountain to climb

No way through for Glasgow Warriors second-row Scott Cummings against Munster. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
No way through for Glasgow Warriors second-row Scott Cummings against Munster. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Glasgow Warriors 5

Munster 14

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium

AFTER a 17 month unbeaten streak at Scotstoun, Glasgow Warriors finally tasted defeat on their own patch against a ruthless and clinical Munster side, who will now progress to a URC play-off semi-final showdown against Leinster next Saturday night at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The loss of stand-off Tom Jordan to a red-card midway through the first half – during a harrowing five minute spell when Munster also scored all their points through two tries – left Warriors with too much of a mountain to climb.

While this first defeat at Scotstoun since going down to La Rochelle in the Champions Cup back in January 2022 means Warriors’ URC campaign is over, Franco Smith’s side can still pick up some silverware this season when they face Toulon in the final of the Challenge Cup in Dublin in two Fridays’ time (on 19th May).


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“In the first 25 minutes we were all over them but couldn’t convert that into points, which was the biggest disappointment of the evening for me,” said head coach Smith afterwards. “The rest was well handled. We ended up defending a lot at the end of the second half and we actually won that second part of the game 5-0 with 14 players on the field and 13 for the last five minutes. So, great character shown from the team and that’s what we’re about.

“Yes, we’re disappointed because we all wanted to win this competition, we all wanted to play Leinster next week, but the fact that even in the 79th minute with so many defensive sets on our try-line and still we didn’t give away any points is phenomenal.

“I will add that Munster defended our set-piece very well tonight, which was class from that regard because most other teams succumb to the pressure we’ve applied there all season. From that point of view, they merit the win.

Smith had no complaints about Jordan’s sending off.  “It is what it is,” he said. “There was contact to the head – foul play – we’ve seen this type of situation many times now, so when it happened it was clear from our side that it would probably be a red.

“I don’t think it was a turning point. The turning point was that we didn’t take away points in the first 25 minutes. It looked like we were going to dominate them but we just didn’t convert the points.”

He also had no complaints about his side not choosing to kick points during that opening quarter. “If you look at how dominant we were that was the right decision,” he reasoned. “That is how we’ve won games this year, but we didn’t convert it.

“Then they went 14-0 up with that red-card, which meant we had to chase the game by scoring tries. So, maybe once or twice we thought about it, but we just felt we had so much pressure and were so on top of them, and that’s why we have no regrets about it.”

 

Warriors threatened first when Sione Tuipulotu broke through the middle with just two minutes on the clock, past Peter O’Mahony (who was suffering with a shoulder injury sustained whilst diving on a loose ball and being clobbered by Kyle Steyn‘s attempted hack ahead) – but Munster managed to scramble back and snuff out the threat.

Munster’s talismanic captain soldiered on for another minute and a half before being replaced by John Hodnett, and the visitors lost RG Snyman – another totemic figure for the Irish side – to a concussion on 16 minutes.

The hosts continued to dominate, and a 13 man maul on the right didn’t find its way to the line, then Jack Dempsey was held up over the line.

Warriors’ failure to turn pressure into points was punished by Munster on their first real attack, when they bulldozed through a dozen phases before Malakai Fekitoa spun out of Steyn’s tackle and stretched over the line on 22 minutes.

Warriors then suffered an even bigger setback when Jordan was red-carded for a high tackle – with shoulder to head contact – on Connor Murray. With Smith opting for his preferred six-two split on the bench, and no recognised stand-off in his match-day squad, centre Stafford McDowall took over at first receiver. It was also the last we saw of the concussed Murray.

The rattled home team then conceded a soft penalties when Matt Fagerson came in at the side to kill a maul, and two minutes later, Antoine Frisch blasted his way over to set up a straightforward conversion for Jack Crowley which made it 14-0 with 28 minutes played.

Warriors found themselves defending a scrum five under the shadow of the posts when Ollie Smith made a meal of gathering Calvin Nash‘s speculative kick and ended up carrying back over his line, but they managed to hold out with no more scores conceded before half-time.

 

Warriors had to score first after the break, and they had a long spell camped on the Munster line, but a lack of composure at key moments in the face of Munster’s ferocious defence meant they couldn’t close the gap until 67th minute.

When that score finally came, it was a beauty, with Huw Jones exploiting a rare dogleg in Munster’s defence to break clear, before sending Steyn over with an excellent pass.

By this point, George Horne had been replaced by Ali Price, and with Jordan on the naughty step, Warriors were down to their third-choice goal kicker. Stafford McDowall pulled his tricky conversion attempt to the left of the posts, leaving Warriors needing two scores to keep their URC campaign alive.

That was as close as the home team got, and it was game over when they were reduced to 13-men by the yellow-carding of Sione Tuipulotu for a high challenge on Fekitoa with just under five minutes to go.

That means Warriors now have a week off before the final, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“In all honesty, to play in two finals for where we are in year one with these boys would have been a huge task,” concluded Smith. “We were all in to win this, there was no talk of taking our foot off the pedal. But now we’ve got to be smart about it. We probably won’t train until later in the week. There will be four or five days when we just reset the bodies and get the minds liberated a little bit.

“The sense in the changing room is that there is so much determination to finish this season on a high. We’ll make a proper plan for Toulon and with fresh and recovered bodies we’ll go and see if we can bring something back.”

 

Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith (H Jones 54); S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu,  S McDowall, K Steyn©; T Jordan, G Horne (A Price 66); J Bhatti (N McBeth 54), J Matthews (F Brown 71), Z Fagerson (S Berghan 62), S Cummings (L Bean, 66), R Gray (J du Preez 54), M Fagerson, R Darge (S Vialanu 54), J Dempsey.

Munster: M Haley; C Nash (M Fekitoa 66), A Frisch, M Fekitoa (B Healy 54, J Loughman 75), S Daly; J Crowley, C Murray (C Casey, 25); J Loughman (J Wycherley 58), D Barron (N Scannell 42), S Archer (R Solanoa 62), J Klein (A Kendellen 71), R Snyman (F Wycherley 16), T Beirne, P O’Mahony (J Hodnett 5), G Coombes.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)

 

Scorers –

Glasgow Warriors: Try: Steyn.

Munster: Tries: Fekitoa, Frisch; Con: Crowley 2.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 0-5; 0-7;  0-12; 0-14 (h-t) 5-14.

 

 

Yellow card –

Glasgow Warriors: Tuipulotu (75mins)

 

Red card –

Glasgow Warriors: Jordan (25mins)

 

Attendance: 6,943


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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

30 Comments

  1. I wish the site had a general discussion forum but it doesn’t so I’ll add this here. We want to grow the game particularly in key markets like the US and China. If we crack those markets there will be no more questions re finance. I’ve been watching Rugby in Denver USA the last 3 weeks – its called Super Rugby Americas (one down from Major League – semi-pro) and involves a team from the US plus teams from Latin America. Lots of folks watching rugby for the first time. They kind of like it but are completely bamboozled by the very complex rules. I was interested so I kept asking did you enjoy it? Will you come back? The answers were yes, but I’m not sure I understood it well enough, it’s so complicated and maybe..
    Soccer is dead simple and American football has some odd laws but you get it even without understanding them. Isn’t it time to set up a task force to figure out how to simplify the rules to make them easier for everyone to understand. We seem set on each year making them more complex rather than simpler. Trying to explain to a newbie the maul the ruck, 22 or goal line drop out, 50:22 never mind the complexities of the breakdown and the scrum and advantages that go on forever… Or do we simply want to rely on those who grew up with the game and lock most others out. Yes the US has Pro Rugby but the average attendance is 2100 (I know one team for one game hit 10,000 – but many are sub 1,000) and it is not growing fast – average spectators up by circa 100 each year.

    • NFL is way, way more complicated than rugby. Both in terms of rules, strategy and the sheer number of plays. It’s a cultural thing. Americans don’t get rugby. Never will.

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  2. Incidentally if anyone could sneak Mark Palmers Times article today onto the blog I’d be appreciative

  3. Re back row too light…… weight-wise about the same as Doris VDF POM, its about combinations, Glasgow 3 (JD RD MF) are the best for Glasgow however from Scotland perspective for me a fit Crosbie starts. (All sorts of huge decisions to make if Crosbie starts). I’ve a feeling GT won’t take Crosbie to the RWC)
    Re the tight forwards making no yards – correct – I noted that Cummings did look like a big skinny laddie as he was constantly knocked back in the tackle – he’s an excellent player but……
    Can’t really have any complaints re Glasgows season they been superb and provided wonderful entertainment. 1 semi and 1 final is pretty good.

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    • Other than the scrum the forwards generally offered little against Munster. With the exception of Zander the front 5 made little impact in open play. Of the back row Fagerson was poor, Darge had some moments but not many, Dempsey was a stand out. Scotland back row against SA and Ireland should be Ritchie, Crosbie and Dempsey. I have no doubt this will not materialise under the stewardship of the current individual in charge.

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    • Agree re likely outcome with Crosbie. If picking on form, you’d start with Crosbie, Darge, Dempsey….. but can’t drop your captain unless he picks two for the RWC?

  4. That was a really hard physical game from both sides. Munster’s defence was heroic, they clearly had a plan for our driving maul and their set piece stood up well. We kind of ran out of ideas without a regular stand-off on the pitch and some of the back play was best watched from behind the sofa. I’m not sure McDowall and Tuipulotu are quite on the same wavelength in attack or defence. Maybe for the final Tuipulotu and Jones should reunite but Johnson and McDowall havent done much wrong when they’ve played. Much will depend on who is available at 10.

  5. A number of comments suggest that the game was over after the red card, but it was just one try each and Glasgow won the second half.
    Again it was suggested that Glasgow are not precise enough from 5-10 metres out like Munster, but Munster’s two tries were scored by threequarters. Perhaps Glasgow should have tried moving the ball occasionally when the forwards failed to cross the line.
    Finally, did anyone notice that in the act of scoring the first try the ball appeared to come out of the scorer’s hand and bounce back in as he crossed the line?

  6. needed to take the points. Knock out rugby is about building a score and making the opposition play.
    Also need to vary the attacking patterns. As noted, Warriors had no real tactical kicking game (and haven’t had all season bar the odd kick).
    Munster’s defence and ability to con the ref so well won the game. It was TBF a typical Munster performance. Very physical but limited. It wins the odd game but there is a reason they have won nothing for 12 years – they won’t can’t move on to modern rugby.
    Best of luck to them against Leinster. They will need it

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  7. Sadly, the evil memories of so many Scotland v Ireland games were resurrected, as Glasgow ran out of ideas as soon as it became obvious that Plan A wasn’t going to work.

    Jordan’s red card was foolish and lazy. If he was too injured to tackle properly then make that aware to the bench and give them the chance to make the necessary changes.

    As it was, I thought Munster dominated the match despite having little of the ball. Their defence was excellent, and the win was well deserved.

    Leinster will thrash them though.

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  8. Ponderings- can’t expect to win every single game…..especially when you really haven’t got a kicking game. Hornes kicking from hand is poor and Jordan for all his qualities isn’t a kicking from hand option. Jordans red card was probably the difference but Munster didn’t really create too much because of his absence.
    Ross Thompsons ability to kick the ball where you’d want to play the game is potentially big next season.
    It was like the Scotland v Ireland game, huge intent/physicality from the Scots but no points. Munsters defence was superb but maybe Jones should’ve played from the start, he was the one guy with that wee bit extra flair.
    Dempsey and Darge played well .
    Finally last night not an entirely bad thing given the European final and Munsters prize for winning last night game v the best team in the world in Dublin

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    • Jordan’s running game has been really useful this term, and as a young man who has recently converted to fly half, it’s been some shift. I am sure he will develop his kicking game. That said, I think Thompson also has bags of potential, and I am looking forward to seeing how he goes in this side next term.

  9. A disappointing performance despite a strong 2nd half with 14 men. I feel the game was lost in the first 20-25 minutes when we were totally dominant yet didn’t score. Firstly we should have taken the penalty kicks at goal – its a knockout game, take the points.

    There were 2 areas of the game that we still need to improve on and are too predictable against the good sides.

    1 – getting over the line from 5-10m out – we lack the precision and variety that Leinster and Munster bring in this area. Munster defended ferociously but we just seem to do the same thing without getting close. We had numerous chances in the first 20. Its all in the detail of the contact and the short passes before contact. I notice here that Munster when close to the line have a support rucker going past the ball clearing space to allow room for the next pick and go. Probably illegal at times but Leinster and them get away with it.

    2 – The back play has become very predictable. In an effort to get the ball wide the stand off is standing really deep and we ship the ball along the line miles behind the gain line. A couple of times we got hammered behind the gain line or the defence just drifts across without being committed and we never get outside them. Some variety is needed here – where’s the chip kick or grubber or ball out the back. Its too basic and easy to read for the good sides.

    Jordan will be out for the final so will be interesting to see who plays stand off. Is Miotti fit for selection – I prefer him and not sure why he doesnt start more often.

    A good rest and gives us 2 weeks to focus on plan for Toulon where Im sure Franco will get some of these things sorted.

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  10. Well that was a cup tie game, great defense from Munster , game over after the red and the prize at the end a semi against Leinster, ugh. Thought Muster countered all our moves tonight , only the scrum and line out was to our advantage.
    I think last night illustrated why Horne is not Scottish automatic starter , his box kicking is very poor, and why take him off? he was our only goal kicker. That left our try as 5 not 7 points and even if we had scored another we would still have been behind.
    Lets get on with the Challenge cup refreshed a bit and give that a real go and hope Munster can raise enough players to give Leinster some kind of game for the URC’s sake.

    • Horne did box kick a lot of possession away for sure but that is standard for all scrum halves when the team has failed to go forward from multiple phases. Conor Murray could teach all our 9s how to do it properly though.

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    • Agree regards Horne – I also think his variable passing was exposed. He still sometimes picks, steps and passes rather than pass straight off the ground which gives defences an extra second to move forward. He’s a great support runner against the lesser sides when we are running riot but in the tight games he’s still not as sharp in the basics.

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  11. Yet again we got our tactics all wrong. Once it was clear we were not going to barge over from a 5 metre lineout we should have taken the 3 points on 3 occasions. This is poor leadership.
    Horne is a great player but he has to be told to stop box kicking and giving hard earned possession away.
    Finally and most importantly we need to be less frenetic, go through the phases before setting in motion the quick passing game. Against powerful sides like Munster and Leinster whose defences are so tight our passing was awful. Too many times a hospital pass provided not only Munster possession but exposed our own defence.

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    • Agree with everything said. I think with the extra week off, Munster probably had the energy required for the defensive shift required to win. Also dropping Turner from the side robbed us of a great ball carrier. Mathews has scored a barrowload of tries and deserved his place but doesn’t offer the same bullocking runs.

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    • Agree Horne’s box kicking has been woeful all season. It rarely allows the receiver to be put under any pressure & just results in the warriors being put under pressure themselves.

  12. Brutal brutal game – lost count of the Munster injuries as they threw themselves literally head first into contact… don’t think our back row was really any lighter than theirs but we went into contact without support facing two man tackles on most occasions and with Munster doing what they do they killed any momentum at the breakdown – we then just seemed to pass from static player to static player and go backwards when spinning the ball wide.

    Gotta admit, refs were very lenient with them off their feet, lying all over the ball, and even tackling when out the game on the deck! But we need to learn to adapt to the ref and we will.

    The game was crying out for Ross Thomson as a kicking 10 to play territory and get in behind them, but injuries play their part in all squads.

    At least we don’t have to debate how to fight on two fronts, and have two weeks to recover and prep for Toulon. In a funny way, that game was good to have as prep for the final coming up.

    The fact that we are disappointed is testament to how far they have come this season, so can’t lose sight of that and have to be be delighted that we got to this game and a final!

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  13. Muster player in an offensive defensive head clash with Tuipulotu no card. Tuipulotu in a passive defensive head clash with Fekitoa yellow card. No consistency from the referee. Despite the ref getting a lift home and a fish supper on the Munster team bus the result was assured after Tom Jordon’s tackle on Connor Murray. Happened right in front of us. He had 3 seconds to choose where to tackle and he chose high. Unfortunately due to injuries and now suspensions Tom Jordan may have sold two sets of jerseys in one game.
    Hopefully however the boys can take the positives from the season and being well in the game with only 14 men and do us proud in Dublin.

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  14. Yes .. disappointing end to the URC, hopefully offset by a European trophy !

    Red card as usual effectively finishes the game as a contest, but a good fight to not let them get beyond 14 pts …

    But did anyone else see the head on head on Matt F on about 31.49 … ? Was even shown on the replay, but didn’t seem to be looked at ..

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      • Yes deliberate stamp on Dempseys arm was very dangerous – was lucky to walk away without serious injury / break.

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    • Yes the head on head for Matt Fagerson should’ve been a red – I don’t understand why he wasn’t savvy enough to go down – then there would have been a replay on the big screen for all to see!
      What Tuipolutu was supposed to do – he was standing still, his knees were bent. I’ve seen yellow cards given against the ball carrying player for hits like this in other games.

  15. Extremely disappointed. Should have kicked for the points as they racked up. Ominous for Scotland, back row far too light.

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    • Back row to light? Dempsey, Darge and Fagerson are the form Scotland back row. They are a superb unit, if anything just not on their game last night. They still won their share of turnover ball and even when down to 14 Munster never looked like running away with things. If we lacked go forward ball then blame the front 5. Apart from Zander I never really saw the other 4 make yards. Gray deserved his place for lineout dominance but Cummings absent.

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    • Back row far too light? If a player is good enough he’s big enough. Darge, Dempsey and Fagerson are an excellent combo with plenty physicality they won plenty of turnovers last night too. Problem if anywhere was the front 5 . Zander was the only one making it over the mainline. Gray gets a pass because he owned the lineout. Bhattie, Mathews and Cummings made no hard yards.

    • Back row far too light? If a player is good enough he’s big enough. Darge, Dempsey and Fagerson are an excellent combo with plenty physicality they won plenty of turnovers last night too. Problem if anywhere was the front 5 . Zander was the only one making it over the mainline. Gray gets a pass because he owned the lineout. Bhattie, Mathews and Cummings made no hard yards.

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