Sean McMahon reporting from Thomond Park
A late Rory Scannell penalty with the clock in the red saw Munster come from behind to secure an incredible 25-24 win over the Glasgow Warriors.
Despite what looked like a certain loss where Glasgow utterly dominated in the second quarter and third quarter of this match, Munster mounted a superb comeback when the game looked lost to eke out a one-point victory.
Much has been made of the rivalry between Munster and the Glasgow Warriors before this fixture and we were reminded of that from the off when both sets of 15 players squared up to each other just a minute into the clash.
Tempers flared once again just seconds later as both sides refused to give an inch to their opponents but it was the home side who struck the first blow on the scoreboard when James Cronin crashed over from close range after nine minutes.
The move began when O’Mahony stole a lineout, the first of two in the opening 40 minutes. Johan van Graan’s side formed an impromptu maul which brought play up the halfway line. From that point, Alby Mathewson spread the ball wide as a superb backline move involving JJ Hanrahan and Rory Scannell put Keith Earls through a gap. The Moyross man sprinted up to the 22 and offloaded to Mike Haley who was hauled to the ground but the men in red won a penalty soon after due to Glasgow infringing at the ruck.
From the resulting penalty Munster’s lineout drive came up short just a few metres from the Glasgow line and after a few forward carries in the tight exchanges, Cronin was at hand to crash over to the left of the posts. Hanrahan converted and Munster were 7-0 in front after 10 minutes.
Munster attacked again right after the restart when Mike Haley produced a superb offload to Earls who subsequently passed it on to Sam Arnold but unfortunately for the centre, his next pass went directly to a Glasgow hand.
Van Graan’s side had an excellent opportunity to get a second try when they won a 5m scrum as Ruaridh Jackson was tackled in his own goal area but CJ Stander failed to control the ball at the base and Glasgow managed to steal possession.
Another opportunity for Munster soon followed with an attacking lineout deep within the Glasgow 22 but a knock on stopped dead any momentum and Glasgow soon punished their opponents for their inaccurate play.
Those missed chances for Munster proved costly after Mathewson grubber kicked the ball into the opposition 22 when the Kiwi took a quick-tap after they were awarded a free kick at the scrum.
However, the ball was collected by the Warriors and due to Munster’s defence not being set, the away side were able to run the ball down the pitch to score through George Horne.
The southern province breathed a sigh of relief when Peter Horne missed the conversion and penalty just minutes later but they were soon celebrating again when George Horne scored his second try of the game.
A loose Mathewson box-kick handed Glasgow possession and again, they showed their devastation in transition as they put the ball through the hands where Horne scampered under the posts which gave the away side a 7-12 lead.
For the remaining minutes of the first half, Munster looked a completely different side which dominated the opening quarter and Mathewson kicked the ball dead at the first opportunity to get his side back into the changing room to regroup ahead of the second half.
Munster started the second-half poorly when an intervention from Peter O’Mahony just about prevented a Glasgow try. However, although the try wasn’t given because of O’Mahony doing enough to dislodge the ball from a Glasgow hand, Chris Cloete tackled a man off the ball and the South African was sent to the sin bin.
This gave Dave Rennie’s side possession five metres out from the Munster line and after a series of scrums, Matt Fagerson picked the ball from the base and crashed over with ease to give his side a 7-17 lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Munster responded straight away when Hanrahan took it upon himself to get his side back into a good position. The Kerryman received the ball around the 10m line, spotted a gap and burst through. He made it all the way to the try line but couldn’t ground the ball thanks to a superb double effort from George Horne and Ruaridh Jackson.
Unfortunately for the home side, they knocked the ball on from 5m out and the chance looked to have left them. Bizarrely, Munster won the next scrum against the head which allowed Hanrahan to get three points on the board.
Earls was penalised soon after the restart for not rolling away which allowed Glasgow to kick for the corner. From the ensuing lineout maul, scrum-half George Horne chipped the ball into the goal area where Peter Horne was on hand to collect and dot down to give the Warriors a 10-24 lead.
Munster looked dead and buried but they hit back through replacement Alex Wootton who went over in the corner thanks to an excellent skip pass Mike Haley.
With seven minutes left on the clock, Mathewson made it a two-point game when he picked the ball up from the base of the ruck a few metres out to stretch and ground the ball on the line.
It looked all over for Munster as the Glasgow Warriors were running down the clock but the Scottish side conceded a penalty just inside their half.
Rory Scannell stepped up to hit the long-range penalty which sailed over the posts to greet jubilant scenes at this famous ground.
Munster: Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold (Wootton 39′), Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, JJ Hanrahan (Keatley 62′), Alby Mathewson (Cronin 78′), James Cronin (Kilcoyne 47′), Niall Scannell, John Ryan (Archer 58′), Jean Kleyn (Wycherley 78′), Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony, Chris Cloete (Botha 60′), CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, Ian Keatley, Alex Wootton.
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)