Pro12: Glasgow Warriors 21-18 Munster
|Glasgow Warriors (9) 21|
|Tries: Nakarawa, Gray Pens: Russell 3 Con: Russell|
|Munster (18) 18|
|Tries: Hanrahan, Copeland Pens: Hanrahan 2 Con: Hanrahan|
Glasgow Warriors bounced back from recent European disappointments to edge out Munster in an enthralling match.
Back-to-back defeats to Toulouse had dented Warriors' Champions Cup aspirations, but they kept their Pro 12 hopes on track with a fine home win.
Tries from Leone Nakarawa and Jonny Gray as well as Finn Russell's 11 points with the boot saw Glasgow home.
Munster crossed through JJ Hanrahan and Robin Copeland, but they could not stop Warriors going top of the Pro12.
Finn Russell endured a difficult day with the boot against Toulouse last weekend, but did not display any nerves when he knocked over a penalty to put Glasgow ahead.
Munster responded immediately, forcing Glasgow onto the back foot and fly-half Hanrahan sold the Warriors defence a dummy-pass before ghosting through a gap for the try to put the Irish side 5-3 up.
Russell sliced another penalty attempt wide of the posts, but when Munster were penalised for an infringement at a lineout, the Scotland international made no mistake with his third shot at goal to reclaim the lead for Glasgow.
Munster were temporarily reduced to 14 men when Paul O'Connell was sin-binned on 20 minutes. The Warriors were inviting pressure though with a succession of handling errors and charged-down kicks, and Hanrahan booted the visitors back in front when Glasgow conceded a penalty from a scrum.
Russell and Hanrahan traded penalties before the Irish struck a blow with the last play of the half.
With Glasgow struggling to halt the powerful Munster runners, the visitors went through the phases before number eight Robin Copeland crashed over the tryline from close range. Hanrahan nailed the conversion to give Munster an 18-9 lead at the break.
The next score was now crucial and thankfully for the Scots it went their way.
Warriors built some pressure with some strong ball carries, none more so than from Gray, who bulldozed through O'Connell to set-up a great attacking platform.
The ball was fed wide to Nakarawa who showed great strength to hold off two tackles and stretched brilliantly to touch the ball down for the score, which was converted by Russell to bring Glasgow back within two points.
Gregor Townsend would have been frustrated at his side's inability to build any momentum after scoring, but they remained in touch, largely down to Hanrahan losing form with the boot and squandering two kickable penalties.
With 10 minutes remaining the Warriors ignited into life with a searing break from wing DTH van der Merwe, who carved through the Munster defence, evading several tackles before being hauled down just inches short of the line.
From the resulting scrum, Glasgow kept their composure when knocking at the door of the try line, and lock Gray found the hole in the stretched Munster defence to score. Russell's touchline conversion came back off the post.
Leading 21-18, suddenly the Glasgow tails were up and Tommy Seymour powered through with another clean break into the Irish 22, which resulted in a penalty against Munster.
With a glaring opportunity to extend Glasgow's lead with four minutes remaining, Russell hooked his kick horribly wide, evoking memories of similar failures under pressure against Toulouse.
Fortunately for the hosts it would not prove costly as Glasgow held out for a hard-earned and crucial victory, particularly with a double-header against Scottish rivals Edinburgh to come over the festive period.
Glasgow: Murchie, S. Lamont, Vernon, Horne, van der Merwe, Russell, Matawalu, Reid, Brown, Murray, Nakarawa, Gray, Harley, Holmes, Strauss.
Replacements: Pyrgos for Matawalu (68), Allan for Reid (59), Hall for Brown (51), Welsh for Murray (59), Swinson for Nakarawa (75), Wilson for Holmes (55).
Munster: J. Murphy, Conway, Howard, D. Hurley, Zebo, Hanrahan, Murray, J. Ryan, O'Byrne, Archer, B. Holland, O'Connell, P. O'Mahony, Dougall, Copeland.
Replacements: N. Scannell for O'Byrne (75), Botha for Archer (58), D. O'Callaghan for P. O'Mahony (47), D. O'Callaghan for Dougall (40). Not Used: Guinazu, Williams. Sin Bin: O'Connell (21).