Sunday 26 February 2017

Murphy on the double as Munster bag bonus

Unbeaten Munster marched to their fourth Magners League success this season and consolidated top spot with an eventually comfortable victory over Glasgow Warriors at Firhill.

Munster earned themselves a bonus point from a performance that was always just a bit better than that of Glasgow, nowhere more so than in the efficiency of their driving forward play where Denis Leamy, David Wallace and Tony Buckley played key roles.

That forward domination allowed Ronan O'Gara to settle into his usual game but the out-half's tally of five penalty goals was matched by his opposite number, Glasgow's teenager Duncan Weir, who may yet play opposite the Munster master in national colours.

Glasgow, clearly smarting from their defeat by Connacht last week, looked determined to make amends with an aggressive start that won the home side three penalties, the last of which was converted by Weir.

Weir then showed his growing maturity with a towering kick from hand that had Munster's wing Johne Murphy under pressure from home full-back Bernardo Stortoni.

Neither player secured possession and when the ball went loose, Warrior's wing DTH van der Merwe was on hand to score the game's opening try on the follow-up.

From the touchline Weir then kicked the conversion goal.

Munster's reply was swift and engineered from a line-out from a penalty and a series of close-range drives by the big men, which ended with No 8 Denis Leamy touching down, with O'Gara adding the extra points.

A huge Weir penalty from inside the Glasgow half was answered by O'Gara with an easier shot at the posts, before Weir struck again to restore the Warriors' six-point lead with the scoreline at 16-10.

Munster's response was another move from an attacking line-out, which put pressure on the Glasgow defence under the posts.

When the ball was moved left, Paul Warwick picked out Murphy for the wing to slide in for his side's second try, O'Gara's touchline conversion giving the visitors the lead for the first time in the match.

short-lived

The lead was short-lived, however, as Weir banged over another penalty before scrum-half Colin Gregor darted round the side of a maul for a try converted by Weir for a 26-17 interval lead.

Munster, operating for the first five minutes of the second half without yellow-card recipient Donncha O'Callaghan, made light of their numerical disadvantage with a third try, this time from a scrum under the Glasgow posts and a simple back-row move that gave Niall Ronan an easy score and O'Gara an equally straightforward conversion.

The visitors, sensing a slump by Glasgow, immediately went on the attack again and after using their heavy men to make ground, O'Gara then put in a clever grubber kick that gave Murphy his second try of the match and the bonus point.

O'Gara added the conversion before kicking a penalty goal to give Munster an eight-point lead, the gap maintained after Weir and O'Gara continued their kicking successes.

Two penalties by O'Gara brought Munster up the 43 points, and there was no way back for Glasgow.

Glasgow Warriors -- B Stortoni; DTH van der Merwe (P Horne 78), M Evans, G Morrison, F Aramburu; D Weir (R Jackson 53), C Gregor (H Pyrgos 62); J Welsh (K Tkachuk 57), F Thomson (D Hall 57) , M Low (E Kalman 70); T Ryder (C Forrester 63), R Gray; R Harley, J Barclay, R Vernon.

Munster -- P Warwick (S Deasy 75); D Howlett, L Mafi, S Tuitopou (Denis Hurley 66), J Murphy; R O'Gara, T O'Leary (P Stringer 66); M Horan (W du Preez 47), D Varley (S Henry 73), T Buckley (Darragh Hurley 76); D O'Callaghan, D Ryan (M O'Driscoll 70); D Wallace (J Coughlan 61), N Ronan, D Leamy.

Ref -- C Damasco (Italy).

Irish Independent

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