Munster head coach Johann van Graan hailed a big win after he saw his side come back from the brink to secure a 25-24 victory over the Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
Midway through the second half, it looked all but certain that Munster would succumb to their fourth defeat of this season’s Guinness PRO14, but like so many teams of the past, they refused to wilt as they mounted an unlikely comeback.
The physicality of the game and the ‘niggle’ between both sides should not come as a surprise to most. These two teams simply don’t like each other and this rivalry has been brewing since at least Glasgow’s win over Munster in the 2015 final.
Much has transpired between these two teams since and the latest chapter unfolded in Limerick on Saturday and for van Graan, he accurately stated in his post-match press conference that this was not “a regular game”.
“This was not a regular game,” van Graan said. “You saw in the first minute what it meant to both sides, not one of these sides were going to blink.
“All 30 guys were in there, and that’s the rivalry between Munster and Glasgow. They gave us a bloody nose a few weeks ago, and we knew we had to fight back and we were definitely not going to blink tonight.”
It’s been a gruelling five weeks for the southern province; two interprovincial games with Ulster and Leinster, coupled with their European fixtures against Exeter and Gloucester, meant that it was always going to be a challenge to welcome the conference leaders next.
“It was a massive game in our calendar and we knew it was coming up after Europe. It’s so difficult to get the guys up after two European games and after the Leinster game and after the Ulster game.
“This five-week block has been massive for us as a group and a lot of guys are leaving tomorrow for Ireland and we’re only seeing them in December again before the next European game. It was very important as a group to get through this one and thankfully we did.”
That win has placed Munster third in Conference A as they depart for South Africa on Monday to take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein next Sunday.