Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Munster 5-22 Glasgow

Tim Swinson, Rob Harley and Josh Strauss - pic © Al Ross
Tim Swinson, Rob Harley and Josh Strauss - pic © Al Ross

With Niko Matawalu busy winning the ladies cup in Melrose today for the Glasgow Warriors sevens team, it was left to Chris Cusiter to lead the full team over to Thomond Park to face Munster.

Limerick’s cathedral of rugby was less busy than perhaps it has been during Heineken Cup weekends of late, and their team was perhaps selected with one eye on that competition but it was no less stern of a test that Glasgow faced in their quest to cement a playoff spot; players the calibre of Keith Earls, Simon Zebo and Conor Murray were lined up. Glasgow were also chasing a first away win against Munster since 2008.

Nevertheless the visitors got the scoreboard going with almost their first possession as Jonny Gray barrelled over by the posts from close range and Weir converted.

Glasgow continued with a series of impressive phases, Finn Russell at 12 fizzing nicely timed passes to the men outside him while Gray and Strauss were making ground. Referee Nigel Owens – late in from a delayed flight – awarded a penalty and Weir duly made it ten points in as many minutes.

Like Glasgow, Munster are doing their best to confound previous reputations for oppressive rugby, and were happy to spin the ball wide via the lively JJ Hanrahan and Zebo. They looked dangerous but weren’t as clinical as they would have liked and let Glasgow retain their lead.

The hosts had their first real chance after quarter of an hour and only a last ditch tackle by Fusaro kept them out, followed up by a lunge of the foot from Cusiter that kicked the ball from CJ Stander’s arms as he tried to touch down over the line. Munster came straight back though and quick passing from Conor Murray and Earls found a 3-on-1 overlap, allowing Stander to score at his next attempt.

A groggy Hanrahan went off after only 20 minutes, with usual first choice Ian Keatley brought on to run the show. Cusiter had an injury scare of his own moments later as he looked to have injured a finger; Cusiter played through it.

His passing seemed to be fine moments later as we saw the impressive Sean Maitland start and finish a try-scoring move, first ghosting through a gap with that deceptive pace of his  (Carlin who?), then finishing up on the other wing to scamper over. Although Weir was unable to convert, overall it was highly efficient use of possession, with Glasgow making the most of every single chance that presented itself.

Munster continued to make iffy decisions when gifted opportunities, Stander kicking ahead following the interception of a Chris Cusiter pass when giving the ball to his winger outside would most likely see a try. Glasgow on the other hand upped their intensity and put together a series of short range blasts near the Munster posts, ending with Josh Strauss stretching past Keith Earls over the line.

Improbably, but deservedly, Glasgow were 3 tries to the good before half time in the stronghold of Irish rugby.

HT: Munster 5-22 Glasgow

As the Munster chants and songs rang out to start the second half, both sides seemed to raise the intensity – Munster presumably as the result of a stern talking to and Glasgow in recognition of the standards that would need to be maintained.

Glasgow had the first scoring chance with Gordy Reid making an enterprising break through the ruck – a set move no less – but Wilson was held up over the line as Glasgow looked to land a knockout blow.

Munster then replied with some ferocious attacking, Keatley and Felix Jones taking the ball at speed but finding a seemingly endless line of Glasgow defenders as they crept ever forward… and knocked it on.

By the time we saw the famous Geoff Cross leg drive deployed in Glasgow colours, the game had broken up considerably, with both sides kicking a bit more, scrummaging worse, and Mr Owens having to use his whistle a bit more too. Duncan Weir spilled a few too many high balls but luckily the men either side of him were playing well and he escaped for the most part.

Munster’s one edge was in the scrum, but luckily few enough of those occurred in critical positions for Glasgow until the 67th minute and Glasgow escaped that one before Owens lost his patience. However, the breakup of the game hadn’t helped Glasgow in their quest for a priceless fourth try. That didn’t mean there were not moments to savour, including a huge hit on Vernon by Keith Earls and a rolling maul Munster themselves might have enjoyed.

As Pyrgos marshalled Glasgow frantically towards the try line for the final five minutes and the knock-ons mounted, it was perhaps an indication of the ambition of this Glasgow club that they would end it unhappy not to have claimed a 4-try bonus away at Munster.

Still, no small achievment and gives Glasgow a real boost in the RaboDirect PRO12 table. Ospreys beating Leinster means the Welsh region are still hot on Glasgow’s heels but if the Warriors can put performances like that together for the rest of the season, there is no reason Glasgow can’t aspire to better than merely scraping into the playoffs.

SRBlog Man of the Match: very difficult to pick with Cusiter, Gray, Fusaro and Maitland all standing out but Josh Strauss was the cornerstone of the pack and provides this Glasgow team with at times unstoppable momentum.

14 Responses

  1. This was the type of Scottish play, execution and determination that I have waited a long time to see. Like a great drive, when you are older, makes it all worthwhile.

    The forewords were superb and the backs made many telling contributions.
    More again of the same PLEASE!

    Edinburgh – PLEASE watch carefully

  2. Forgot to add – neat trick to add winning the Melrose 7’s at the same time.
    What a double!!!

  3. Brilliant, brilliant squad management by Gregor T this last weekend. To send out THAT team at Munster, producing THAT performance, at THIS time of the season. Fantastic. And in all the angst about the state of Scottish rugby – that team had 14 Scottish qualified players in the starting line up. Only Josh Strauss is not qualified.
    Love that young Finn Russell, can be seen going around slapping forwards on the back after good rucks, scrums etc. He’s only just in the team and he’s already acting like a leader. The patient development of Gordon Reid is really being rewarded now as well.

    Meanwhile we send a stunningly strong squad to Melrose and look class. Genius to have Matawalu and Isles playing there; they loved it and the crowd loved them. Quite possible we would have won that tournament with the 7 Scottish boys we took Eddie, Gillies, Brown; Jones, Wight, Bennett, Hughes. But the overseas stars added glamour and pizzazz to the whole tournament. Great Weekend to be a Glasgow supporter.

  4. “Love that young Finn Russell, can be seen going around slapping forwards on the back after good rucks, scrums etc. He’s only just in the team and he’s already acting like a leader.”

    I hope the Glasgow coaching staff show enough faith in Finn to reward his recent good form, and keep him in the team for the rest of the season either at 10 or 12.

    In my eyes, he is Glasgow’s 10 for next season, he just looks so assured in all aspects of his game. Hugely promising player from a club and country perspective.

  5. Big opportunity for Glasgow this Friday. I think if they win this game against Ulster they should finish second in the table and get a home semi-final. Lose and there is no margin for error.

    Really impressed Glasgow’s performances seem to be peaking at the right time after a frustrating season. If they miss out they will really rue their lack of firepower and paucity of try-scoring bonus points.

  6. Two tight forwards stood out for me, Gordy Reid and Johnny Gray. Great shift at Thomond for those young forwards.
    Cusiter back to his very best and Maitland just gliding.
    Looking very forward to the summer tour

  7. It looks like Ruairidh Jackson hasn’t lost just his club place to Russell but I’d say he’ll be replaced on the summer tour as well. It’s good to see Townsend showing faith in a young player and giving him time to prove himself, much like Robinson/Johnson with Scott in the national team.
    Unless Laidlaw comes back from his rest and becomes a Scottish qualified version of Niko it would be an utter travesty if Cusiter was left sitting on the bench throughout the summer tour. The way he switched the line of attack against Munster with one deft wee flick early in the first half was testament to how effective he can be. I believe that Glasgow can beat Ulster and make it to second place, especially if they keep up the try scoring and get a couple of bonus points. A Scottish Pro12 champion would provide a timely boost for rugby in this country

    1. Huge opportunity for the young Scots FHs this summer. Weir had a nice wee run but didn’t make the shirt his own. I still think he has plenty of potential but at the moment he isn’t at the level you’d expect from a test FH. I suspect that Heathcote and Russell will be in the same boat but if you have three young FHs who have to make the step up you might as well try them all out and see which one has the biggest cajones.

      Jackson might still have a squad place for the WC if he can get himself a good club. Heathcote needs to leave Bath desperately. Edinburgh?

  8. I agree it was a great performance but I have huge concerns with Weir who looked awful, kicking was poor, really poor. What is happening with him he just doesn’t look a real no 10. Why wasn’t Horne bought on when it was obvious Weir was having a nightmare? Townsend deserves praise in many respects but Russell should be getting game time NOW in the 10 shirt – and why wasn’t he taking the penalties and conversions?. These mistakes by the coaching team could have lost Glasgow the game, make no mistake of that.

  9. Great performance for Glasgow. Inspiring stuff. It’s true and unfortunate that Dunc Weir was probably the only player that didn’t have a great game. His kicking from hand was poor and he fumbled a high ball. His kicking from the tee was fine though – only missed one tricky conversion by my recollection. It’s a shame that his form has taken a down turn of late, particularly since it has coincided with him getting his most extended chance both with Glasgow and Scotland. Finn Russell has indeed been excellent, but he is getting plenty of game time and experience at 12. We need to be developing all of our young players and I think the current balance at Glasgow is working. With Weir, Tonks, Russell, Heathcote, Horne, Jackson at least we have some level of competition across the board. It will be interesting to see if Cotter just backs one and tries to get him as much experience as possible as we get into within a year of the RWC, or whether he’ll do a bit of experimenting with the pivot.

  10. Wow, huge selection calls in Russell at 10, Horne at 12 and Bennett at 13. This could be inspired or go absolutely pear-shaped but this really is three of Scotland;s brightest young talents being thrown together for Glasgow’s biggest game of the season. Big ambition from Townshend, praying that the lads fulfill his faith in them.

    I am guessing Dunbar is struggling with his injury as he is an absolute titan in defence.

  11. I agree FF as i said Russell needs to be at 10,he is Scotland’s real great hope at 10. Horne and Bennett are the gambles but Dunbar is injured without doubt and this is Bennett’s real chance to stake a viable claim for Glasgow and Scotland. Exciting or what? Can’t wait

  12. Wow indeed! He has some stanes on him Toony, that’s for sure. I said to my lass a few days ago I had a feeling we may see Russell at 10 for this match (based on the Munster game) with Horne coming in at 12, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen. If they can get it right tonight, it will add a whole new complexion to the potential look and certainly depth of our back line. Dunbar is a big loss as he is ideally suited for this type of game. However, great chance for Bennett and Horne. Roll on seven thirty!

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.
Gregor Townsend has named his team to face Canada in the first match of the Skyscanner Americas Tour with 10 players given the opportunity to make their Scotland debut.
Craig is joined by Iain, Jonny and Rory to discuss Glasgow's momentous win in the final of the 2024 URC

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion