world : Niggle, controversy and spice to Glasgow-Munster semi

world : Niggle, controversy and spice to Glasgow-Munster semi
world : Niggle, controversy and spice to Glasgow-Munster semi

Friday 14 June 2024 11:48 PM

Nafeza 2 world - There are layers to this rivalry going back years. After years of underachievement, Glasgow under Gregor Townsend started to emerge as a serious force capable of competing at the top end of the table, and when they finally did claim the Pro12 title in 2015, it was Munster who were vanquished in the final in Belfast.

“I think that hurt Munster as well,” Brown said.

“That was their first shot at winning silverware for a while and it was a little bit of a non-performance from them, but Glasgow blew them away that day.”

These clubs have waged war on the pitch and slung mud at each other in the media over the past decade.

There was Keith Earls accusing Brown of “milking it” after a reckless tip tackle that led to a red card for the Ireland wing in a Champions Cup game at Thomond Park in 2016.

And Conor Murray claiming Glasgow players dangerously targeted his standing leg after box-kicks in the same competition at Scotstoun the following year.

This fixture has had more than its fair share of flashpoints.

Another was Tom Jordan’s red card against Munster 25 minutes into last season’s quarter-final at Scotstoun.

It was in no way controversial - the punishment was entirely justified – but it was another example how the physical intensity of these matches sits right on the edge.

Jordan got it wrong with his high shot that made contact with Murray’s head, Munster took advantage and rode the momentum of victory at Scotstoun all the way to the URC title.

"That quarter-final really was a tough pill to swallow,” said Glasgow flanker Rory Darge.

“When you're watching URC semis and finals after getting knocked out in the quarters in a game that you feel like you didn't show your best, it's a tough one to take.

"Since I've been at Glasgow anyway, every game we've played them, it's just been so competitive, so physical, lots of niggle.

"I think we've learned more lessons. We're not going to shy away from our ambition, but that doesn't mean that we're under any illusions about it's going to take.”

Munster look every bit the same juggernaut that caught fire at just the right time last season and produced three stunning away wins on the bounce in the play-offs to capture the title.

They have enjoyed home comforts in the knockout stage this time around – their reward for finishing the regular season top of the table – and last weekend’s quarter-final victory over Ospreys was their 10th consecutive victory.

Head coach Graham Rowntree is respectful, though, of the threats Glasgow will bring to Thomond Park.

“They’ve got the full package,” said the former England prop. “They can play, they’re dangerous on the edge of the field, they kick a lot less than most teams.

“They have a dangerous breakdown, and they come here with – reading between the lines – quite a gnarly attitude, similar to us on the road last year. We spoke about that mindset this week. That’s what we’re waiting for.”

While Glasgow came unstuck against Munster in the last eight, they did register a win at Thomond Park last season.

They came roaring out the traps and had a four-try bonus-point secured by half-time as they ultimately ran out 38-26 winners in one of their best performances of the campaign.

Even December’s 40-29 defeat offers some source of encouragement, with Warriors’ line-out maul causing their Irish opponents no end of problems.

Rowntree will have prepared his players for that piece of the Glasgow armoury and all the rest.

If Franco Smith is to mastermind a victory over the champions that secures a first URC final appearance for Warriors since 2019, it would take its place as one of the finest victories ever registered by a Scottish side.

Glasgow: McKay; Cancelliere, Jones, Tuipulotu, Steyn (c); Jordan, Horne; Bhatti, Matthews, Z Fagerson; Cummings, Gray; M Fagerson, Darge, Dempsey.

Replacements: Turner, Kebble, Walker, Williamson, Ferrie, Venter, Dobie, Thompson.

Munster: Haley; Daly, Frisch, Nankivell, Zebo; Crowley, Casey; Loughman, Scannell, Archer; Wycherley, Beirne (c); O’Mahony, Hodnett, O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Barron, Ryan, Jager, Snyman, Coombes, Murray, O’Brien, Kendellen.

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