Wednesday 21 March 2018

Munster go top

Keith Earls scored a try for Munster
Keith Earls scored a try for Munster

Munster moved above Glasgow to the top of the Guinness PRO12 after defeating the under-strength Scots in Cork in a 22-10 bonus point win.

Anthony Foley's men stormed out of the blocks but had nothing to show for some terrific build-up play until young flanker Jack O'Donoghue crossed in the 28th minute. Hooker Eusebio Guinazu added a second before the break for a 12-0 lead.

Glasgow looked a shell of the side that had surged to the league's summit, missing 23 players due to a combination of Scotland commitments, injuries and suspensions.

They launched a stirring second half fight-back, though, setting up prop Rossouw de Klerk for a fine 59th minute try. Munster responded immediately with a superb Keith Earls score and CJ Stander's maul try registered the bonus point.

Early turnover ball sent Munster's influential captain Denis Hurley breaking into the Glasgow 22 but John Ryan's subsequent offload to Duncan Williams went to ground. Peter Murchie and Niko Matawalu then did well to close down the options for man-of-the-match Earls as the Munster centre surged up the left wing.

Earls glided through on the right soon after, but Connor Braid crucially got back to intercept a pass from Andrew Conway. Despite their first quarter dominance, Munster remained scoreless with Ian Keatley drifting a 39-metre penalty wide.

Matawalu showed brilliant pace and footwork as Glasgow sliced open the home defence on the right, however Munster finally opened the scoring from a clever attack near the half hour mark.

JJ Hanrahan took the ball on from a quickly-taken lineout, Keatley swept out to the left where he dummied his way into the 22 and his pass back inside released O'Donoghue on a well-timed run to the line.

O'Donoghue's third successive PRO12 try went unconverted but Keatley added the extras to Guinazu's 37th-minute effort, as the Argentina international scored off a lineout maul near the left corner.

Glasgow found their rhythm on the restart, Braid landing the second of two penalty attempts and from a better return in the scrum and lineout, Ali Kellock and Josh Strauss became more prominent.

The gap was suddenly down to just two points after tighthead de Klerk took a great line onto a Braid pass. He barged past Williams and crashed over under the posts with Braid converting.

That concession seemed to refocus Munster and Earls, chasing down a pinpoint Keatley kick, delighted the home crowd by using his right instep to flick the ball up into his arms and dive over in the right corner.

Keatley was having an off-night from the kicking tee, missing the conversion and also failing to add the extras to Stander's touchdown. Glasgow rallied in search of a losing bonus point but their luck was out when Lee Jones had a foot in touch before grounding the ball in the 75th minute.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport