Guinness PRO14: Warriors win but flat second half costs them bonus point

Gibbins, Hogg and Ashe score in the first half

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg -dives in four Warriors' second try ***Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson***

Glasgow Warriors 25

Munster 10

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun

HAVING scored three tries to establish a 22-0 lead at half-time, Glasgow Warriors failed to kill-off their resilient but uninspired opponents (missing most of their big internationalists) after the break, and they will hope that the bonus-point they passed up here doesn’t come back to haunt them later in the season.

It is early days, of course. And we have been reminded several times by Dave Rennie already this season that it is about how the team finishes – not starts – the campaign that really matters. So, we shouldn’t read too much into this game of two halves, and the coach was certainly not tearing his hair out in frustration afterwards.

“We’re happy with the first half, we played at the right end of the field and built pressure through multi-phases, and we got rewarded for that,” he said afterwards. “In the second half we were forced to defend a lot and I’m really happy with the way we stood up there, but we were a little loose with the ball in hand when we just needed to keep doing what we did in the first half.

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“We had a couple of dusty offloads and ended up defending more than we probably should have, buy we’re wrapped with the impact of the bench and with our discipline.

“You want to pick up bonus points and having three tries first half we maybe should have scored it before half-time,” he added. “But you’ve got to pay tribute to Munster’s defence too, and second half they denied us possession. We had a couple of opportunities from turnovers when maybe we could have been a bit more clinical and we thought we’d snuck one late for a bonus. Our defence put us in positions we could counter off and we just needed to be a little bit more clinical.”

More Hastings

Adam Hastings was the official man-of-the-match, but Rennie thought one of his pack should have got the nod.

“It was hard to go past some of those big men up front when you get a win like that – dominant scrum, lineout drive and a million tackles in and around those edges – but we’re very happy with Adam. I think it was a step up from last week and he’s going well,” said the coach.

Peter Horne missed an early penalty after Tommy O’Donnell dived on a loose ball from an offside position in the opening minutes, but he was dead on the money with an easier shot from right in front of the posts after quarter of an hour.

Then, after a relentless spell of pressure on the Munster line, involving some mesmerising hot-potato rugby, Hastings’ long, flat pass finally sent Callum Gibbins skidding over in the corner.

The try-scorer was perhaps lucky to be on the park at the time having recklessly thrown himself shoulder first into a ruck during the build-up to Horne’s earlier penalty. There was a hold-up

while the Television Match Official tried and failed to locate the incident. It will be interesting to see if the citing commissioner gets involved.

“It was a big turning point in the game because numbers could have been different for the rest of the game,” was Munster coach Jahann van Graan’s assessment of the situation.

With Warriors also picking up two scrum penalties, it really was going well for the home side, and it got even better on 28 minutes when another period camped deep inside the Munster 22 ultimately led to Stuart Hogg dashing onto Hastings’ wonderfully weighted grubber kick to score try number two. Hogg thumped home the conversion for good measure.

With four minutes to go in the half, Munster stand-off JJ Hanrahan received a straight-forward pass on his own line and should have had no problem despatching the ball off up field, but he somehow managed to guddle it and was left sprawled in an embarrassed heap as Adam Ashe pounced for the score. Hogg’s conversion made it 22-0 at the break.

Apart from kick-offs, Munster only once managed to make it into Glasgow’s half during that first period, when Stuart Hogg’s long restart clearance bounced over the dead-ball line, meaning the game was brought 60-yards back upfield for a scrum. The Irishmen then conceded a penalty when the two packs came together, allowing Glasgow to resume their relentless onslaught.

The Munster awakes

Munster managed to get off the mark with a Hanrahan penalty four minutes onto the second half, awarded because Warriors were deemed to have bored in at the scrum. Sammy Arnold had a powerful break on the right, and Munster kept pressing, with Warriors not helping themselves with some loose kicking and handling when they had the chance to activate the pressure release valve.

For all their huffing and puffing, however, Munster lacked the accuracy and guile to ever look like they might blow the house down against a well-drilled and determined home defence, and it wasn’t until there was just over ten minutes to go that they troubled the scorer again, with replacement hooker Rhys Marshall – cousin of Warriors co-captain Gibbins – bursting over for a close-range try.

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Hogg almost immediately stretched the lead back to 15 points with a penalty, then limped off to be replaced by Niko Matawalu, and the Fijian need an almost immediate impact when he latched into turnover ball on the right and chased down his own kick upfield to set up a ruck on the Munster line, from which the ball came back on Warriors’ side and Gibbins scrambled over for what looked to be that all-important fourth try. But referee Ben Whitehouse had his arm up for an offence at the breakdown, and the home team had to settle with just four league points from their evening’s toil.

Rennie explained afterwards that Hogg was nursing a minor ankle injury picked up earlier in the match, which the medical team are not overly concerned about.

Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg (N Matawalu 73); T Seymour, N Grigg, P Horne, D van der Merwe; A Hastings (A Dunbar 63), G Horne (A Price 54) ; O Kebble (J Bhatti 59), F Brown (G Turner 51), Z Fagerson (D Rae 63), R Harley, J Gray, C Gibbins, R Wilson (M Fagerson 70), A Ashe (S Cummings 54).

Munster: M Haley; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, R Scannell (J Taute 64), S Daly; J Hanrahan (J Carbery 42), N Cronin (D Williams 24); D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 57), M Sherry (R Marshall 48), J Ryan (S Archer 40); J Kleyn, B Holland (F Wycherley 24), D O’Callaghan (T Beirne 40), T O’Donnell, A Botha.

Referee: M Whitehouse

Scorers –

Glasgow Warriors: Try: Gibbins, Hogg, Ashe; Con: Hogg 2; Pen: P Horne, Hogg.

Munster: Try: Marshall; Con: Carbery; Pen: Hanrahan

Scoring sequence (Warriors first): 3-0; 8-0; 13-0; 15-0; 20-0; 22-0 (h-t) 22-3; 22-8; 22-10; 25-10

Man-of-the-Match: Adam Hastings got the official gong but Rennie had a point when he suggested his big men should get some credit, so let’s go with Zander Fagerson, who put in a huge shift in both the tight and the loose.

Talking point: Callum Gibbins’ clear-out during the first have could have been a key moment in the game, why could the TMO not find it?

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About David Barnes 4028 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.