Rugby did all the talking on the opening weekend of the Guinness PRO14, with expansive play and nail-biting finishes on offer in equal measure.
In all, ten bonus points were won – a tally that equals the record for most in a round – while Round 1 saw wins for both Italian teams, Benetton Rugby and Zebre, in the season opener for the first time.
Round 2 kicks off with two Friday night fixtures as Edinburgh Rugby travel to Ulster Rugby and, as we look at here, Glasgow Warriors welcome Munster Rugby to Scotstoun.
What’s at stake?
On Friday night Munster take on Glasgow at Scotstoun (live on Premier Sports 2 & eir sport 1, 19:35) in a game that will have lasting consequences in Conference A come the end of the season, with both of these former champions eager to make another title run.
Munster hold a good record over Warriors, but Dave Rennie’s team are formidable at home having won all fixtures last year in the regular season – failing just once to collect a try-scoring bonus point.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors)
Rennie has named a settled side as the Warriors welcome Munster to Scotstoun.
The inclusion of Fraser Brown and Adam Ashe in the starting pack are the only changes to the starting XV from last weekend’s bonus-point win over Connacht in Galway, the No.8 coming off the bench at the Sportsground to score what proved to be the match-winning try.
Brown joins Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson in the front-row. Behind them Rob Harley moves from the flank into the engine room to partner Jonny Gray – co-captains Callum Gibbins and Ryan Wilson complete the forward pack.
Team news (Munster Rugby)
Jaco Taute makes a welcome return after missing almost a year of action through injury, with the centre among the replacements. Tadhg Beirne is also among the 23, with the new signing in line to make his Munster debut off the bench.
Billy Holland captains a Munster side that shows one change to the starting XV that beat Cheetahs last weekend as Sammy Arnold comes in at outside centre. Mike Haley starts at full-back, with Darren Sweetnam and Shane Daly on the wings.
Rory Scannell is partnered by Arnold in the centres, with the half-back pairing of Neil Cronin and JJ Hanrahan unchanged – there are also no changes to the forwards.
Talking points: Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “Over the last year there has been a lot of changes week-to-week based on availability, rotating internationals and injuries so it is good to have some continuity from the game last week.
“Munster are a quality side and are consistently up at the top end of our league and in Europe based around a really strong pack.
“They are smart tactically, kick really well and look after the ball so our discipline will be important, but we’ve trained really positively this week and can’t wait to get back out in front of our vocal home support.”
Key battle – Stuart Hogg v Mike Haley
There will be two classy full-backs on display at Scotstoun on Friday as Glasgow and Scotland star Stuart Hogg goes up against Munster new-boy Mike Haley.
There aren’t many games that go by where Hogg doesn’t make an impact and the same was true in last week’s 27-26 victory over Connacht, where the No.15 kicked the winning drop-goal under intense pressure.
Haley, meanwhile, was one of Munster’s big signings over the summer and offers bravery, dancing feet and a touch of steel associated with an old-school full-back.
Key fact: The Irishmen lost on both of their visits to Scotland last season.
Did you know? The Warriors have won their opening two fixtures in each of the last two seasons.
Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Rob Harley, Jonny Gray; Ryan Wilson (co-captain), Callum Gibbins (co-captain), Adam Ashe
Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, D’Arcy Rae, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Alex Dunbar, Niko Matawalu
Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Neil Cronin; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (C); Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Arno Botha
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne, Duncan Williams, Joey Carbery, Jaco Taute
TV: Live on Premier Sports and Eir Sport
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 47th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Dan Jones (WRU), Sam Grove-White (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Paul Thomas (WRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
An Adam Hastings-inspired first-half blitz helped Glasgow Warriors maintain their imposing home record as Munster were put to the sword at Scotstoun.
Glasgow won all their regular-season home fixtures in last year’s Guinness PRO14 – failing just once to collect a try-scoring bonus point – and began this campaign in similar style with a 25-10 victory.
Young fly-half Hastings conjured up some magic to create scores for Callum Gibbins and Stuart Hogg before Adam Ashe’s quick reactions for a third try put the hosts 22-0 up by half-time.
Munster did improve considerably after the break but it took them 30 minutes to finally breach the Glasgow try-line through Rhys Marshall and the hosts weren’t to be denied.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) September 7, 2018
After narrowly defeating Connacht in their opener, the Warriors have now started the season with two wins for each of the past three years and improved a poor recent record against the Irish province – securing just a second victory in the last seven fixtures between the sides.
Glasgow dominated the opening exchanges and after pushing his first kickable penalty wide, Pete Horne made amends on 14 minutes by slotting another three-pointer between the posts when Munster strayed offside in their own 22.
Shortly after, the Warriors were again knocking on the door at the visitors’ try-line following Ashe’s initial turnover.
After numerous phases Hastings collected Ashe’s offload on the wraparound before floating a perfect pass into the hands of Gibbins on the left touchline – the back-rower sliding over the whitewash.
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) September 7, 2018
With their pack dominating the breakdown and consistently turning Munster over or forcing penalties, the Warriors had a platform from which to unleash their dangerous back-line, whose creativity produced the second try just before the half-hour mark.
Hastings was again at the heart of the move, dabbing a precise grubber through the Irish side’s defence and over the try-line, where Hogg sped through to collect and dot down before slotting the conversion himself for a 15-0 lead.
And the Glasgow domination led to a third try just before the break, this time courtesy of an error from JJ Hanrahan deep in his own 22.
The fly-half dropped a pass back to him, the ball squirting over his own try-line and Ashe reacted first to dive on the loose ball ahead of Hanrahan, Hogg adding the extras for a 22-0 half-time lead.
With Johann van Graan’s presumably harsh words ringing in their ears, Munster started the second period far more impressively, controlling the territory and providing quick ball for their backs before Hanrahan finally booted their first points with a 44th-minute penalty.
They then set up camp in the Glasgow 22 but the home defence continually frustrated their visitors before finally being breached ten minutes from time when Marshall crashed over and new boy Joey Carbery got his first points in a Munster shirt with the conversion.
But Hogg put the result beyond doubt with a 73rd-minute penalty that extended Glasgow’s lead to 15 points and although they failed to score a fourth try for the bonus points, it was still a job well done by the Scots.
06 Sep 2018
06 Sep 2018