Glasgow came into this game on the back of a narrow defeat to Leinster during which they had taken the odd squiffy decision and dropped off from a game they were competitive in against a second string Leinster outfit. They came away with a losing bonus point, but Leinster overtook them at the top of the league and it was disappointment all round.
What a difference a week makes.
The Warriors bounced back to put together probably their most impressive forty minutes of the season, in the process scoring more than 50 points past a Munster side that was far from second string.
It started well as Sean Maitland got his interception score after only 25 seconds, but Glasgow were barely in the first half. Niko Matawalu had an interception try of his own but Glasgow were living off little but scraps. Matawalu was as mercurial as ever; luckily he has a steely pack to back him up when he gets into trouble running up blind alleys.
Munster had scored a couple of impressive tries in the first half themselves and looked like they were definitely capable of more, given a chance. It was a fiery encounter, with both packs and even the odd back – Ronan O’Gara is always up for a spot of fisticuffs – mixing it up in the pushing and shoving stakes. It was physical out there.
No one really credits big Al Kellock with much other than great leadership and a role as Glasgow’s straight talking enforcer but he is a fine lineout exponent and his lads would follow him anywhere. As much as anyone he should be credited with the team spirit that courses through this Glasgow club. Returning would-be Lions shoo-in Paul O’Connell came off distinctly second best tonight. It’s doubtful Gatland was watching anyway, but there was much that would cheer him here. Although I’m not sure Josh Strauss or Matawalu are eligible, Stuart Hogg, Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh and that man Kellock all played well. Even perhaps Ol’ Warren might have noticed the attacking verve of Ruaridh Jackson, who like his mentor Townsend is very much a confidence player. Too much? Nevertheless, luckily for Glasgow, his confidence is high.
Unlike, say, Edinburgh, who are at times extremely generous to their opposition, Gregor Townsend’s Glasgow are a far more ruthless proposition. So when they started to cut loose in the second half it was merciless. Bennett scored from close range after the excellent Ruaridh Jackson had taken a score of his own; Stuart Hogg needed only one missed half-tackle to sprint down the wing and score a fine individual try.
Munster battled to make a fine try for the always classy Dougie Howlett, but Glasgow took this as some sort of insult and stepped up the pressure once again, snatching an interception try. It was fitting that John Barclay, who had been excellent throughout, and is set to leave in the summer, capped off a great game with an amble to the line. Not even a despairing dive from Munster’s Felix Jones could stop him.
Tonight, as they sit atop the RaboDirect PRO12 once again, nothing could stop Glasgow.
GLASGOW (20) 51
Tries: Maitland, Matawalu, Jackson, Bennett, Hogg, Barclay
Cons: Jackson 4, Weir 2
Pens: Jackson 3
MUNSTER (14) 24
Tries: Howlett 2, Kilcoyne
Cons: O’Gara 2, Keatley
SRBlog Man of the Match: Jackson scored a try, three penalties and four conversions. Creatively at the centre of the Glasgow attack.
Here are the official highlights:
And here are the Edinburgh highlights. A very useful 7-9 win for them over in Italy, if not particularly spectacular. Congratulations also due.