O'Gara shows his mettle for Munster
Munster showed Declan Kidney's Ireland how to deal with a bunch of stiff-necked Scots last night as they saw off the challenge of Glasgow at Thomond Park.
Denis Hurley and Jean de Villiers scored a try in either half, but the real star of the show was Ronan O'Gara who held his nerve to kick five penalties and a conversion to make sure of the win.
Dan Parks scored 14 points for Glasgow, who were probably a little unlucky not to pick up a losing bonus point after a spirited performance, but they just seemed to run out of steam in the end.
There were both positives and negatives for Tony McGahan on the night. The scrum struggled and the line-out stuttered, but they kicked well, chased hard and overall looked more threatening with ball in hand.
Munster came into the match minus the services of six frontline internationals but were able to call upon the services of O'Gara -- who captained the side from out-half -- and Donncha O'Callaghan.
They were also forced into a tactical change shortly before the start of the game when Tony Buckley had to withdraw due to illness, replaced at tighthead by Julien Brugnaut.
Glasgow were pretty close to full strength and were able to field seven players who starred for Scotland at Croke Park last week. Parks and Chris Cusiter formed the half-back partnership whilst the 'killer Bs' -- John Barclay, Kelly Brown and Jonny Beattie -- made up a formidable back unit.
Munster started brightly and nearly took the lead in the opening minute when Paul Warwick's clever trip through almost found O'Gara, but the ball just ran away from him.
O'Gara then sent an inch-perfect cross-field kick in the direction of Denis Hurley, who knocked on under pressure.
The deadlock was broken after a quarter of an hour when Hurley finished off a great team score in the corner. Lifeimi Mafi made the initial burst, breaking the first line of defence and offloading to Ian Dowling who found Hurley in space with a long cut out pass.
O'Gara was unlucky with the conversion attempt but made amends with a well-struck penalty to leave the score 8-0 to Munster after 20 minutes played.
Parks narrowed the gap with a penalty attempt but Glasgow suffered a blow on the half hour when Graeme Morrison was sin-binned for a trip on Dowling.
Munster immediately set about making their advantage count but gifted the visitors a soft score when an O'Gara pass was intercepted by Barclay, who ran home from 70 metres.
Parks converted and O'Gara struck back with a penalty just before the break to send Munster into the break with a one-point advantage.
Kicking once again prevailed early on in the second half. Parks nudged Glasgow ahead with his first effort but O'Gara responded with two of his own to keep Munster in the driving seat.
Both sides were then reduced to 14 men when Kevin Tkachuk and Niall Ronan were sin-binned in two separate incidents, and O'Gara and Parks once again traded kicks.
Parks scored another penalty to reduce the deficit to just a single penalty. But De Villiers responded with a brilliant try, taking the ball on the angle and rounding the cover defence to touch down in the corner.
O'Gara's impressive conversion from the touchline put daylight between the sides for the first time, and Munster saw out the rest of the game comfortably.
Munster -- P Warwick; D Hurley (D Howlett 33), L Mafi, J de Villiers, I Dowling; R O'Gara capt, P Stringer(D Williams 75); M Horan, D Fogarty (D Varley 59), J Brugnaut (D Ryan 61); D O'Callaghan (B Holland 75), M O'Driscoll; A Quinlan (N Williams 57), N Ronan, J Coughlan.
Glasgow -- B Stortoni; M Evans, P Murchie, G Morrison, DTH van der Merwe (H O'Hare h/t); D Parks, C Cusiter (C Gregor 61); J Welsh (K Tkachuk 60), D Hall (F Thomson 52), M Low; R Gray (Tim Barker 59), D Turner; K Brown (J Welsh 65-75), J Barclay capt, J Beattie (R Vernon h/t)
REF -- J Jones WRU.