Glasgow Warriors beat Munster to make the URC Final

Glasgow Warriors beat Munster to make the URC Final

Glasgow Warriors stood up and fought their way to the 2023/24 BKT United Rugby Championship Grand Final in Limerick on Saturday, earning a 17-10 victory over defending champions Munster to book their place in the competition’s showpiece event.

Kyle Steyn and Sebastian Cancelliere’s scores, allied to the boot of George Horne, booked Franco Smith’s side’s place in the final, in front of a near sell-out crowd in the south of Ireland.

With the backing of over 20,000 red-clad supporters inside Thomond Park, the home side made the brighter start with ball in hand. Glasgow’s defence was solid in the face of early pressure, but only at the expense of a penalty from 30 metres. However, from in front of the uprights, Jack Crowley was uncharacteristically wayward, leaving the scorers untroubled with four minutes gone.

Glasgow were next to go on the offensive, an overthrown Munster lineout sending Johnny Matthews hurtling into the 22. Sione Tuipulotu was inches away from applying the finishing touch, with the home side scrambling to deny the centre.

Back came the home side once more, throwing phase upon phase of pressure at their visitors inside the Glasgow 22. One too many penalties conceded saw referee Andrea Piardi send Richie Gray to the sin bin, Crowley atoning for his earlier miss by slotting the penalty for a 3-0 lead at the end of a breathless opening 10 minutes.

Munster were now enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory, as they sought to make the most of their numerical advantage. Yet the Glasgow defence continued to hold firm in the face of the red onslaught, a Rory Darge turnover on hs own five-metre line silencing the Thomond Park faithful.

With Gray poised to return to the field and Munster looking for one final attack with the extra man, the Warriors then duly struck a sucker punch. Excellent defence from Tuipulotu and Tom Jordan forced the error from Alex Nankivell in midfield, Steyn scooping up the loose ball and racing home untouched from 40 metres to touch down under the posts. George Horne added the extras, and Glasgow led 7-3 with 25 minutes played.

More and more clear-cut opportunities were becoming scarce, with defences on top for both sides as the half approached the closing stages. The next chance went the home side’s way as Simon Zebo looked to capitalise on an overlap, only for Huw Jones to expertly cut down the winger and put him into touch.

A fever-pitch atmosphere was ratcheted up even further on the stroke of half-time, as a superb steal from Jordan and the alertness of Horne saw the Warriors counter from 22 to 22. With the home crowd baying for a card in the follow-up, the officials agreed, showing Matt Fagerson a yellow card. Yet once more the Warriors would see out the half, a Jack Dempsey turnover allowing Sebastian Cancelliere to boot the ball to touch and sound the half-time whistle.

Knowing they would play the first eight minutes of the half with just 14 men, the Warriors managed the opening exchanges expertly, squeezing penalty upon penalty out of their hosts inside the Munster 22. Whilst they would come up empty-handed, Fagerson returned to the field with the scoreline unchanged.

That wouldn’t be the case for long, as Glasgow struck for a sublime effort on the counter-attack. Great footwork from Jordan saw the fly-half dance away from contact, before linking with Darge to put Jones through a gap. The centre accelerated into open prairie, his pass to Cancelliere perfectly timed to send the Argentinian flyer racing over the line. Horne navigated the swirling wind superbly, taking Glasgow’s lead to 14-3 on the 52 minute mark.

Munster’s response was immediate, urged on by a fervent Thomond crowd. Yet once again Darge was on hand to silence the noise, the openside pinching the ball in the shadow of his own posts to deny Antoine Frisch.

There was no denying Frisch moments later, however, as Munster finally found a way through. Josh McKay’s try-saving tackle would deny Jeremy Loughman, only for the home side to quickly recycle and send the centre over in the corner. Crowley’s impressive conversion would narrow the gap, Glasgow leading 14-10 heading into the final quarter.

The noise continued to grow inside Thomond Park but the Warriors still refused to yield, one momentous hit from Max Williamson on RG Snyman earning a roar of approval from those in Glasgow colours. With six minutes to play, Horne was presented with a chance to put his side within touching distance after Alex Nankivell was shown a red card for a dangerous clearout inside the Munster 22. The scrum-half duly obliged, and the Warriors had a seven-point lead.

It was a lead that, with every tick of the clock, was protected with all Glasgow’s might. One final set of thundering carries allowed Horne to feed Jordan, who applied boot to ball and send Glasgow into rapture. The defending champions dethroned and a place in the Grand Final secured – all eyes now turn south for next Saturday’s decider against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.



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