Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Guinness PRO12 Final: Munster 13-31 Glasgow

Finn Russell and Al Kellock - pic © Al Ross
Finn Russell and Al Kellock - pic © Al Ross

Ulster’s Kingspan stadium in Belfast was the “neutral” venue for the Guinness PRO12 final but the stands had a distinctly red tinge – possibly aided by the odd Ulsterman – as Paul O’ Connell took to the field for the last time in Munster colours.

Glasgow were far from on fire in the opening five minutes but they gained ground steadily when they had the ball, tackled strongly when they didn’t and looked nowhere near as cagey as in previous final appearances.

They had their first scoring chance after seven minutes, prevented by a last gasp Denis Hurley tap tackle on DTH Van der Merwe who was absolutely flying for the tryline with only Ian Keatley left to beat.

But they weren’t to be denied as Leone Nakarawa – who just refuses to go to deck until he can offload the ball – found Rob Harley who battered through two defenders to score under the posts, Russell converting. The roar of the crowd showed just how many of the Warrior Nation had travelled over the sea for this game, and they were delighted to see Glasgow continuing with confidence as the backline attacked from everywhere.

The offloading game was paying off, but they’d need scores as there was always the threat of Munster waking up and finding some way to shut Glasgow down, or a rash mistake such as the Finn Russell clearance kick that was charged down and almost led to a Zebo try.

As expected, Munster edged it in the scrums early on with a kickable penalty on 23mins that Keatley slotted to the relief of the Red Army, having missed one earlier.

That man Nakarawa – who was having one of those spells where no-one knows how to stop him – created his second try of the night in what is now typical fashion, with battering carries from Gray and Strauss setting the Fijian up with just a little bit of space enough to set DTH loose. He flirted outrageously with the touchline but this time was not to be denied. Sensibly he ran under the posts and that meant 3-14.

Munster had been near-starved of possession but Glasgow were not finished yet, with excellent build up play from a turnover finding Stuart Hogg up against a front-rower who he promptly skinned and could have passed either side to Seymour or Pyrgos, in the end choosing Pyrgos who had an easy run in for the third try.

Munster finally came back with some ball led by sniping runs from Duncan Williams and again they were inches from a score as the men in red threw everything they had at the line not to win the game, but merely to stay in it. Munster spun it wide, and Andrew Smith managed to roll the ball over the line. The TMO took a fair while to adjudicate but it was rightly awarded and gave Munster a vital boost before half time as the rain appeared.

Our Glasgow, the real Glasgow, had been mostly absent from the last two games but still found a way through. Now they had showed up and played probably the best rugby of their season, could they hold on?

Half-time: Munster 10-21 Glasgow

If Munster needed anything in the second half, it was always going to be a reversion to type as the conditions grew damper. Some nice rolling mauls and dominance in the scrums gave them a roadmap, but they just couldn’t keep the ball and Glasgow’s tails were still up – despite failing to deal with the wind behind them sending a few kicks dead.

O’Connell came close but excellent positioning from Pyrgos and DTH held Munster to a scrum. It was slippery underfoot and Munster were able to earn a penalty. Luckily for the Glasgow front row (and fans of attacking rugby) Munster chose not to try and eke out a penalty try and took the 3 points instead.

They were sneaking back.

Glasgow were still looking to attack whenever possible and Finn Russell made a great break to pin Munster in their own half but the game was a noticeably more even contest, as evidenced by the increase in noise from the Munster fans. Keith Earls and Simon Zebo were lively and as you’d expect from the great man, Paul O’Connell was leading by example.

With discipline near impeccable from both sides, Nigel Owens had very little to do and the game proceeded at a rattling pace.

But Glasgow were clinically (yes, I wrote that about a Scottish team) taking points whenever they had the chance and Finn Russell made life just a little easier for Glasgow fans when after a series of big carries from Richie Vernon, Pyrgos switched play and the standoff found the line in front of him and an easy gap to run through for the fourth try.

Leone Nakarawa put in a phenomenal shift but had to give away to Al Kellock eventually. The big man had a great lineout steal as his first act on the pitch. Paul O’ who?

Glasgow had done many things on a knife-edge, many things insensibly this season, but Duncan Weir kicking the penalty to make it 13-31 with 7 minutes to play was the most sensible, taking the score out to 13-31 and allowing the Warriors the relative luxury of seeing out the last few minutes in a very Munster-like fashion.

It all ended with Owens whistling up a penalty as a Glasgow player was tackled through the back of the ruck by and Irish player. Like Scottish league wins, something you rarely see.

The greatest compliment you could pay to Glasgow was that when the whistle was blown to crown them Guinness PRO12 Champions for the first time and seal the greatest result for Scottish Rugby since the Five Nations in 1999 was this: that it was utterly deserved, it was utterly convincing and it by the end of a wonderful season, it was utterly unsurprising.

20 Responses

  1. congratulations to the magnificent Glasgow Warriors. Played with passion and skill, Big Leone was superb what a player. I think big vern cotter will be feeling a little more at ease now, with so many players at the top of their game to pick from and now with a “winning” mentality and confidence boost. Also great to see that Scotland’s “2nd rated” centres were all in winning sides today (Duncan Taylor at Saracens). Definitely feeling more confident about the World Cup now…….

    Well Done Glasgow, you have changed history and I think also turned the tides for Scottish sides and the Scotland team

  2. Wow! Just wow, couldn’t be happier unless someone turns round tomorrow and says that due to a loophole Nakawara is actually eligible for Scotland!

  3. As a season ticket holder who could not get time off to travel I offer my congratulations to a Glasgow team who have been magnificent all season.Look forward to next season travelling from Dumfries to watch these guys.Thay have made an ever growing following very proud and most important they should be very proud of themselves.

    The future looks bright!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I don’t think I have ever seen a better 80 minutes of rugby from any Scottish team. It was a full 80 minutes for a start. It was fast, dynamic, threatening, aggressive and highly effective. I have been banging on to my English colleagues how good the pro12 is and how competitive Glasgow are and that their brand of rugby is on a par with the NZ teams. Tonight’s performance underlined this. As Toonie said last week, this Glasgow team can work out on the park how to beat teams. So I will add intelligent to my list of adjectives above.
    I thought everyone played their part but 9 & 10 were world class. Pyrgos’ distribution was flawless and sometimes I thought Russell was seeing plays in slow motion enabling him to pick and execute killer moves. It bodes very well for the RWC. Can’t see Cotter wanting to change much of the playing style now.

  5. At over 70, I have waited a very long time (in modern professional rugby) to see a Scottish team win well & play exciting rugby to watch in a big championship. Thank you Gregor Townsend and all the Glasgow Warriors squad. I have my pride back.
    Next the RWC and then GW in Europe next season.

  6. Glasgaow now remind me of the great Scottish teams of 1984 and 1990. So differnet to our national tea, nopw. Thye deserve massive credit for winning, particularly in the way they did. However, I notice that this did not get a mention on either BBC or Sky news. Saracenns win ovewr Bath did receive a little attention but this game did not- why?

  7. What an outstanding performance! As an Edinburgh fan I’m thrilled Glasgow have brought some respect back to Scottish rugby and hope their success can be emulated by us and by the test squad. Townshend has been an absolute God send and Glasgow can use this to have a proper tilt at Europe next year. Glasgow is now Scotland’s rugby heart.

  8. Great performance, Glasgow. They simply never allowed Munster to play the way they like to, and actually exposed Munster’s complete inability to find and execute an alternative game plan when confronted by a team that ran around and through them. Not getting sucked into a pack to pack struggle was a good game plan, but it needed a very good pack, especially at the breakdown, to pull it off. And they certainly pulled it off. Both Warriors locks outstanding, and I really hope Russell can transfer his confidence and style to Test rugby in the warm ups and at this year’s RWC. Simply brilliant, Glasgow. Us Edinburghers are very proud of you!
    By the way Neil, there was actually decent coverage of the match news on national BBC news this morning.

  9. What a performance. After being outplayed for much of the Ulster match, the team performed like champions on Saturday. To win is one thing. To win in a champagne style, playing beautiful rugby with some chutzpah, is an entirely different animal and will live in th memory.
    I don’t remember a single ‘knock on’ from a Glasgow player! Considering the style of rugby they play, its a transformation from previous eras. It’s strange that most of the play went down the left wing route towards DTH, and Tommy Seymours side of the park was relatively quiet. The way it works sometimes.
    Although a top team performance, just need to mention Ryan Wilson, who was immense in the last 2 games. Considering the kind of year he’s had, he must be pushing for inclusion in the Scotland squad.

    1. Agree about Wilson. He definitely deserves a second look – the last two performances were excellent and it can’t have been easy to debut in a team coached by SJ. As we have four RWC warm up games, I guess some games might be used to audition fringe players?

  10. it was in the (first) Hughenden days I started going to watch Glasgow (anyone remember Cammie Mather, Glenn Metcalfe etc) – when we were glad of the existence of Connaught, the only side who could be relied on to finish below Glasgow. The reason I went – other countries were embracing the pro-era, and Scotland was in danger of casting the bastard out on the hill, letting our emerging pro sides die of neglect. It was allowed to happen to the South of all places . . . and thank goodness we stuck with it. Its not been quick or easy but its been progress, first to be competitive and to be taken seriously and by degrees through the Lineen era (to whom a great deal of credit is due/ when we had the best defensive record in the league), to achieve the status of a playoff challenger. I was in Dublin this time last year – the disappointment (of not competing) was tempered by the feeling you probably have to lose one before you win one but with the knowledge that itself, guarantees nothing. I’m just back from Belfast – I have watched a recording over again and probably just want to find a way of saying what a day, what a fantastic achievement . . . not just winning but doing it in style – four bonny tries, and not just that but the controlled power involved in the last before the final incision – wait til we can do that in internationals. A few highlights of the game – Hogg’s arced run and the realisation (right in front of me) that he had exposed Kilcoyne and what must result; Munster’s bizarre captaincy in kicking the penalty when another scrum looked like it would result in a penalty try or yellow card or both (and bring the score to 21:17) and Kellock’s line out on 68 minutes – I want that as my screen saver. There are loads of posts which mention the performances of individual players – no point in repeating, but I’ll not forget easily John Welsh’s happiness and emotion at the end of the game. We’ll miss him and VDM – does he need to go to west Wales to be a fireman? And the over-riding feeling . . . optimism, for the times ahead, for two competitive, credible sides to figure domestically and in Europe; for a good World Cup and 6 Nations – that’s all.

  11. We are all trying to find the words to express joy and pride at what has been achieved. Small words, huge feel good, a proud city and a bucket load of optimism for Scottish Rugby.

    There is more than one way to win, however Glasgow have done it in a way that we can all be proud of. Glasgow have entertained their fans all season and I am proud to say they are a clean side, they want to win , but not at any cost. They played in excess of 50 players this season and are a cosmopolitan side, after all, they even play blokes from Ayrshire and Fife (Chortle)

    As only Glasgow can, they even have a nickname for their man of the match, The ‘Weegie from Fiji’ who must today, be the most recognised man in all of the west end.

    Being serious, Glasgow will now be known to the world as a rugby city. I have always believed that if we could get Glasgow playing rugby , we would be a nation to be feared.

    We may just have awoken, our sleeping Giant.

    1. Agreed but dont forget about our even bigger sleeping giant- the Scottish Borders. If we could get a pro team going there then we would be on a par with NZ. Ireland and Wales would then be pooping their pants at the prospect of visiting Murryfield. These teams have had it too good for too long. It is time that our boys in blue gave them a game to remember for us and to forget for them. If I could have just one wish it would be to watch Scotland tank Wales at the Millenium stadium next season and for our fans to rub salt in their wounds. I would just love to see Jonathan Davies et al squirm.

      1. Neil… Dont ruin the moment for everyone.

        Live in the now and enjoy the summer thinking of this great moment.

        Can you not feel the power and potential for the future. Our largest city has just awakened to discover it’s rugby team are ‘simply the best’.

        Scottish Borders population 109K
        Glasgow city population 600k
        Greater Glasgow population 1.3M

        Now that is the Giant that has just awoken from his slumber.

  12. My wife, who is American and not much into sport generally, let alone rugby, cuddled up (apologies if this is over-disclosing!) and watched the post-match celebrations with me for 45 minutes – she could see how happy I was and she appreciated the significance for Glasgow and Scotland! I’m guessing/hoping a lot of others in Glasgow and Scotland generally will now start to ‘own’ the team.

    It was just a beautiful game from our team; even the power game from Glasgow was beautiful and clinical. There was nothing ‘bullying’ about it – no relentless grinding down of the opposition in scrums and mauls for penalties (the boring curse of northern hemisphere rugby right now). They hit hard and fast, for the particular purpose of creating quick ball to play expansively and exploit gaps, with stunning support play ready for the offload. It reminded me more of the dynamism of NZ’s style of play; it would be fun to see Glasgow compete in Super XV!

    Thank you, thank you to everyone involved. Time to build on this.

  13. watched the match,… so dominant were glasgow it was almost boring :D …. I wouldn’t mind more matches like that from any scottish side.

  14. Not much to add but well played the warriors! More of the same next year please and hopefully Edinburgh can kick on too. Hope the under 20s watched the game, may give them a boost to competing in whats a tough under 20’s Group (NZ, Arg & Ire). Also the team did the city of Glasgow proud. Not something that can be said about their roundball cousins..shamefull scenes on Saturday, but thats another story.

  15. Ooft! Not long back from Belfast, still can’t talk as my voice is so hoarse, and I’ve just finished watching the game back on TV. Bath aside, that’s the best I’ve ever seen us play. Took Munster on both up front and out wide and won both areas. Big Leone was deservedly MoM but for me Pyrgos was a very close second. On that form he should be starting for Scotland. He also seems to bring the best out of Russell. A lot of players put their hands up for big VC’s squad. Strauss has to be a shoe in at 8, Wilson deserves massive plaudits, and big Johnny rediscovered his mojo on Saturday. As for DTH, one, why aren’t you Scottish, and two, why oh why are you leaving for the Scarlets?

  16. Wooft – absolutely delighted! Was away on holiday, so had to completely avoid the internet until I could get the game up on iplayer. What a performance. I’m an Edinburgh supporter, but am blown away by this. Made it through to Scotstoun once this year to go to a game with friends – fantastic experience. Great to see that the success of the local team is percolating through the city and attracting a much wider audience. It really feels like a turning point. GT is an intelligent and inspiring visionary and has honed a great team. Really looking forward to seeing what GW can achieve in ERC next season and even have some hope for the RWC. Great stuff.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion