URC play-offs: Glasgow Warriors stun Munster to book Grand Final spot

Franco Smith's side will face Bulls run Pretoria next Saturday evening

Sione Tuipulotu carries for Glasgow Warriors against Munster during the URC play-off semi-final at Thomond Park. Image: Inpho/URC
Sione Tuipulotu carries for Glasgow Warriors against Munster during the URC play-off semi-final at Thomond Park. Image: Inpho/URC

Munster 10

Glasgow Warriors 17

DAVID BARNES @ Thomond Park

ON a tense and tetchy evening at Thomond Park, Glasgow Warriors overcame the odds with a performance built on defiance and complimented by two razor-sharp finishes – one each from their wingers – to book their place in this season’s URC Grand Final, which will be against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria next Saturday evening.

Franco Smith‘s side spent almost all of the first half under serious pressure but a heroic defensive effort meant they managed to go in at the break 7-3 ahead. Munster did their best to intimidate the Warriors, but they would not take a backward step, and then managed the second half superbly to secure a famous win.

Thomond Park was a cauldron of red passion for 70 minutes, but was deadly silent during the last 10 amid the dawning realisation that the team who won this competition last year, and who finished top of the table at the end of this regular season, were not going to be the ones shooting it out for the silverware next week.


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For Warriors, another huge challenge awaits, with a 13-hour flight to South Africa on the cards ahead of taking on a turbo-powered Bulls side, who booked their place in the last two with a hard fought in over Leinster in the other semi-final earlier in the day. Based on this and last week’s performances, the Scottish side are entitled to believe that they can improve on the six point defeat they suffered at Loftus Versfeld during the regular season just over a month ago.

Munster really should have taken an early lead but Jack Crowley – recently unveiled as URC of player of the season – failed with a penalty from just to the right of the posts, which was into the gusty wind but the kind of scoring opportunity that a player of his pedigree should be gobbling up.

The home side continued to look the more lively, but then dropped the ball in midfield and overthrew a line-out, which created an opportunity for Sione Tuipulotu to trample over the top of Craig Casey on a charge towards the line, but he was pulled down five yards short and a huge cheer reverberated round Thomond when the home side were awarded a penalty on the deck.

When Richie Gray was perhaps harshly penalised for tugging at Peter O’Mahony‘s arm in the middle of the line-out, Munster kicked to the corner, and after two more penalties deep inside Glasgow’s 22 – taking the total conceded by the visitors to six inside the first 11 minutes – Italian referee Andrea Piardi lost patience and sent the offside Gray to the bin whilst simultaneously handing Crowley a chance to make amends for his earlier error by slotting three easy points from bang in front of the posts.

Warriors heaped more pressure on themselves when Sebastian Cancelliere tried to run it out of his own 22, set off across the front of the posts and was stripped of possession by Tadhg Berne. The visitors got the put-in at the scrum but their underpowered pack (missing Gray) was blown away, and the home side pressed again. It took some great work on the deck from Rory Darge to avert the danger on that occasion.

Glasgow were in desperate need of a momentum-changing stroke of luck, and it arrived on 23 minutes when Antione Frisch and Alex Nankivell got in a muddle on halfway, allowing Kyle Steyn to scoop up possession and gallop home for a try converted by George Horne which gave the visitors an improbable – given the general pattern of the game – four point lead.

As both teams struggled to build continuity in an error-strewn affair, Munster continued to have the better of possession and territory, and their gamesmanship came into good effect when O’Mahony suddenly suffered a mystery leg injury to stall a line-out while his team-mates and the vocal Thomond crowd urged the referee to review a raised elbow by Josh McKay in a challenge a few phases earlier. Sure enough the penalty was given, and correctly so, but it cranked up the tension levels on the pitch and in the stands. Miraculously, O’Mahony’s injury suddenly cleared up.

A few moments later, in overtime at the end of the first half, Matt Fagerson clobbered O’Mahony at shoulder level and swung his arm to dislodge the ball, then stood over the cantankerous old Irish warhorse in a gesture of defiance. Predictably, the Munster fans and players erupted, Piardi had a look at the TMO and produced another yellow-card for a high-tackle, but the message had been delivered.

 

 

Despite being down to 14 men, and perhaps fuelled by a sense of injustice, Warriors took control of the match at the start of the second half, thrice going to the corner off penalties, but their line-out maul wasn’t getting much joy and on the last attempt they lost the throw-in.

Warriors kept their foot on the gas, and after Horne was off target with a tricky penalty shot at goal, the visitors claimed their second try of the evening. Tom Jordan collected a Munster clearance and started the counter from deep, Darge was in support and fed Huw Jones on a classic outside break, who then gave Cancelliere enough space to finish off the sweeping attack he made it look easy but it should be stressed that the Argentiean winger still had plenty to do.

Munster responded immediately, and after their first assault on the Warriors line was derailed by a holding-on penalty against Jerry Loughman, there was no stopping them a few minutes later, when a barnstorming run from Loughman got them within range and a quick recycle saw Frisch squeeze over in the corner. Crowley’s touchline conversion reduced Warriors’ lead to four points with just over 20 minutes left to play.

Glasgow held their nerve, started getting the rub of the green with the refereeing decisions, and managed to keep an increasingly fractious and ragged Munster hemmed inside their own half. It wasn’t quite a perfect example of how to close down a game, but in the circumstances, it was a pretty professional job.

With seven minutes left, and Warriors already playing penalty advantage, Nankivell flew up the side of a ruck and connected with Horne’s head as he bent to get the ball away. It initially looked like being only a penalty, and the Munster fans couldn’t believe the temerity of it when the Warriors players suggested to Piardi that he take a closer look on the big screen. The Italian did decide it was worth a second glance, and amid a deafening silence he then decided that it was indeed a red-card offence.

Horne took his time before slotting the three points, and, try as they might, 14-man Munster couldn’t find a way to close that seven point gap against a composed and uncompromising shut-out from the visitors.

 

Teams – 

Munster: M Haley; S Daly, A Frisch, A Nankivell (S O’Brien 46-57), S Zebo (S O’Brien 61); J Crowley, C Casey (C Murray 57); J Loughman (J Ryan 66), N Scannell (D Barron 45), S Archer (O Jager 45), F Wycherley (R Snyman 45), T Beirne, P O’Mahony, J Hodnett (A Kendellen 72), J O’Donoghue (G Coombes 54).

Glasgow Warriors: K J McKay; S Cancelliere (J Dobie 57), H Jones, S Tuipulotu, K Steyn; T Jordan, G Horne; J Bhatti, J Matthews (G Turner 57), Z Fagerson (O Kebble 70), S Cummings, R Gray (M Williamson 57), M Fagerson (E Ferrie 60-70), R Darge (H Venter 57), J Dempsey.

Referee: Andrea Piardi

 

Scorers –

Munster: Try: Frisch; Con: Crowley; Pen: Crowley.

Glasgow Warriors: Try: Steyn, Cancelliere; Con: Horne 2.

Scoring sequence (Munster first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7 (h-t) 3-12; 3-14; 8-14; 10-14; 10-17.

 

Yellow card –

Glasgow Warriors: Gray (11 mins), Fageron (41 mins)

 

Red cards –

Munster: Nankivell (74mins)

 

Attendance: 20,052


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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.

33 Comments

  1. The weak mentality narrative is one that is constantly put forward by the BBC’s own Lord He Haw the Irish propaganda sports writer where is he now to slate Leinster and Munster ??? because had Glasgow lost he would be in a utopian state of circumlocution about Scottish mental weakness.

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  2. Fair play to Glasgow, another big knock out tie won. With all due respect to our friends across in Edinburgh, we simply seem to have a knack of being able to navigate our way through many more of these big seminal games. 2014 SF vs Munster, 2015 SF vs Ulster, 2015 F vs Munster, 2019 SF vs Ulster, 2024 SF vs Munster. You will notice the trend here is that Glasgow tend to get the better of Munster and Ulster when it comes to knock out rugby, sadly Leinster are our nemesis where we have lost 4/4 knock out ties (2012 SF, 2013 SF, 2014 F, 2019 F).

    A great away performance by the lads and it was all about control and accuracy for me. I thought overall it was a thoroughly deserved win and outwith the opening 20-25 minutes Munster never looked particularly dangerous. Glasgow defended resolutely throghout and our second try was a thing of beauty, support play by Jordan and Jones was brilliant. The sweetest of all was not just beating Munster again but doing it in Thomond Park! They dont like us and what a fitting way for Zebo (who has mocked Glasgow) to bow out of rugby!

  3. I’ve been very critical on other threads about the lack of big game mentality or mental toughness or bloody mindedness or whatever you want to call it from most of the Scottish teams over the last few years where we’ve seemed to lose so many tight, high-pressure matches, particularly knockout stages or six nations or World Cup or whatever. However, hats off to the boys I thought last week was a statement win and this weeks was an even bigger one. I really hope they can keep going with this kind of determination and intensity. I’d love to see these players be on this as a pivotal moment and the Scottish Rugby psyche. It’ll be a tough ask for us to win next week in South Africa given all the disadvantages we will enjoy there but I think we have to deliver a similar kind of performance Regardless to show that we’re still heading in the right direction. Very very pleased , I’m glad to see a Scottish team finally stepping up away from home and a big match. Well done everyone.

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  4. Great result, really got sick of Moaning- Munster and their tactics of looking to get people carded… baying for replays only when in their favour silently watching kicks untill the last second, constant offsides, and piling in the side of rucks to spoil them… thankfully the ref was strong against them… and for me the defeat was well deserved… Glasgow certainly show how to play rugby properly, no slow ponderous kickball for them ( Horne can be forgiven the odd one surely) 🫣☺️

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  5. Well done Glasgow mentally as well as physically strong which you cannot usually say about our professional rugby players. Defence was excellent but Munster made so many unforced mistakes as well as the ones forced upon them. No last hurra for O’Mahony the player that we all love to hate but would also love to have as Glasgow out Munstered Munster. Special thanks must also go to Munster Director of rugby Rowntree for his starting selection especially for leaving out Snyman as it allowed Glasgow to continually disrupt their line out. However our scrum really struggled and as others have said you cannot keep pushing Zander for 80 mins. I have yet to be convinced by Murphy as a scrummager and it us tells you something when a coach wont use his reserve TH even though he is an internationalist.

  6. Re officials I texted my Irish mate at the end reffing immaterial Munster attack ineffective Glasgow defence tremendous Jack Crowley anonymous. Tom Jordan better

  7. Absolutely glorious that Munster were arrogant enough to advertise a Munster Bulls final on their big screen during the game. Video that game should be shown every week to the players to show them what they are capable of with everything set against them

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  8. One wee thing, the running option Jordan took that resulted in the Jones break and the Cancelliere try was beautiful, easier to kick but running allowed Jones to have a look and run at forwards (I think) and 7 points was the outcome.

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    • it was the substitute back whom Jones skinned. Nankivelli was off temp for blood injury. O’Brian came on and looked a s quick as me, Jones knew he had him for pace

    • Shuggie skinned O’Brien their replacement centre and Zebo, phenomenal acceleration and left them for dead… TJs run caused absolute confusion and bunching in the defensive line… great move..

  9. Best result since winning the pro 15 title? Quite possibly.

    I didn’t see beating an Irish side in knockout rugby coming. This should do so much for their belief. What experience for Williamson and Ferrie too. Absolutely amazing stuff.

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  10. Unbelievable defence from Glasgow. I hope this is a turning point in Scottish rugby. Going away to Thomond Park and snuffing out Munster like that in the second half was sweet. Having a ten defend like Tom Jordan helps! Huge performance. We certainly were not helped by the Munster defence being allowed offside all the time.

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  11. Best Glasgow performance in a long time, a great win away at Munster and in to the final. Everything went well last night , the Jones/Tuipulotu axis worked well all the rustiness was gone. The forwards and the replacements were immense, the backs were excellent and Jordan tackled like a mad man. The defense was epic and the attack kept Munster pinned in their own half for most of the second half. A shout out to Horne’s kicking when he missed the penalty in the wind his next kick was perfectly weighted for the conditions and sailed over. That to me was the night in a nut shell, Glasgow just got it right on the night.
    Can I gloat a little bit, the wheel’s seem to have come off Irish rugby’s car, flop at the RWC , Leinster lose in the Champions cup and URC and along with Munster heading for the beach.

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  12. What a statement win that was after the disappointing trip to SA. The team showed incredible character. Any win at Thormond park is great however it is achieved., but with 2 yellow cards in the first 40 it makes it even better. I could only watch the first half and it seemed all Munster with incredible Glasgow defence and I feared for us after Fagerson got yellow carded but sounds like we had more of the game in the 2nd half. What a bandit Mahoney is – he milked one in the first half for getting cleared out past the ruck which is a Munster speciality and I think the ref was too easily influenced by him and the crowd on a few occasions. And what’s this new tactic where a player effectively swims round the side of a ruck and ends up on the other side attempting to kick the ball out – I thought that was a penalty all day.

    On to next week and that will be a tough game because the Bulls looked very strong against Leinster but we have nothing to fear now and confidence will be restored. There were lots of great performances but one area for me which we need to improve on is Hornes box kicks. There were a few that were about 10-20m too far – I dont mind box kicks but they have got to be contestable otherwise you are just giving the ball away. The Bulls scrum looked really strong yesterday so I think it will have to be more of the the high tempo keep the ball alive stuff next week.

    Should be a great game next week.

  13. I agree with all of the positive comments above this has to be one of the best performances by Glasgow. Munster had not been beaten at home since 2019 (apart from Leinster)
    However can someone please stop Horne box kicking and most of the time giving away possession to a strong side. If we do this against Bulls they will run use the park. Please keep possession and go through the phases

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  14. Exceptional performance, with guile, mental toughness, and patience in defence…. They all played their part but thought that Jordan and Zander had especially great games. Most enjoyable moment was Williamson on Snyman! Big names stepped up tonight.

    Very different challenge next week, but we go with nothing to fear as complete underdogs – the way we Scot’s like it?

    Bring it on!

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    • Whilst the Williamson hit on Snyman was good, top moment for me was Horne using the full minute to take the final penalty which the Munster crowd seemed to really appreciate (😉). A great performance & result that finally contradicts the ‘weak mentality’ of Scots rugby narrative. 4 finals in the league for Glasgow now, Edinburgh Rugby should be taking a long, hard & very critical look at themselves & that’s said as a denizen of those parts

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      • The weak mentality narrative is one that is constantly put forward by the BBC’s own Lord He Haw the Irish propaganda sports writer where is he now to slate Leinster and Munster ??? because had Glasgow lost he would be in a utopian state of circumlocution about Scottish mental weakness.

  15. Just awesome, physically and mentally those lads were on it for the full 80 mins, yes some mistakes but who doesn’t playing under such intensity in a febrile atmosphere.
    You know what is so satisfying, the pubs in Limerick will be just a wee bit subdued tonight and that’s all down to Glasgow’s obdurate performance, and how many times have we said that about the Irish provinces?
    Well done Glasgow, well done the players and coaching staff, you deserve all credit, but now the bar has been raised, therefore us supporters who pays our hard earned pennies expect nothing less from here on in 👍🙂
    You’ve earned a wee half together this evening 😀

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  16. Huge physical and mental performance from the entire team. We go to Pretoria as underdogs but we wont be worried by that.

    It feels like something has changed on the mentality in the last two weeks and if it has thats great for Glasgow and Scotland going forward.

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  17. A fantastic result, one of the greatest in the pro era. Glasgow dominated the second half and got theirbdue reward. Doffs of the cap go to Jordan, Zander F, Dempsey, Steyn and the midfield 2.

    All to play for now, here’s hoping this win gives the players the belief they can get this one over the line.

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  18. A great game by Glasgow. The defence was immense particularly given we played for 20 mins with only 14 men. Jordan’s physicality for me makes up for what he misses relative to other 10s.

    I also enjoyed Franco’s interview at the end. He is so balanced with his words. As I said once before I hope Scotland dont grab him.

    Big ask next week but we’ve raised our game after a few rocky performances and we ran the Bulls close the last time.

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  19. Simply tremendous by Glasgow, Jordan Tuipulotu McKay superb, Jones is sprinkled with magic dust.
    Wonderful defence (against an admittedly blunt Munster attack with Jack Crowley anonymous).
    Z. Fagerson a machine.
    Venter a great player to have in squad.
    Williamson leathering Snyman was pleasing.
    Bulls looked tasty, bring them on

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  20. Amazing game to be down to 14 for 20 minutes and come out with the win was amazing Sione had a great game but my MOTM was Jordan if only he could borrow Horne’s kicking boots.
    On to Pretoria. We so desparately need a back up for Zander we cannot keep playing him for so long in every game.

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  21. Huge physical n mental performance against a cheaty Munster side n dodgy officials. Whatever happens next week this was a very serious rugby effort. Ref had no concept of offside line and let POM away with murder. This is a top 10 all time performance/ result for me for Glasgow. Virtually impossible to win against 19 players but somehow did it.

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    • I hate to complain about referees but the first 20mins especially were awful. Glasgow should have had one try from a pen for a high shot on Tuipuloto which was given the other way. And a couple other interesting decisions

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      • The most impressive thing was that we sorted whatever it was and got back on the right side of the ref and his team… We conceded something like 6 penalties in first 20 mins most back to back, yet the penalty count I believe ended up as 11-13 for the game in our favour ie we only conceded 5 for the rest of the game!

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