Ahern the leading man as brilliant Munster warm up for Europe by blowing Glasgow away

Munster 40 Glasgow 29

Oli Jager of Munster with teammate Conor Murray

Rúaidhrí O’Connor

THE steam rose from the players on this chilly night in Cork, but whatever ice lay on the Musgrave Park didn’t last long during a sizzling first-half performance from Munster.

Their title defence had been trucking along unspectacularly, but last night’s arrival of the league leaders saw them go to another level as they marched into next week’s Champions Cup opener against Bayonne with a spring in their step.

The scoreline suggests a closer game than it was, with Glasgow’s maul producing five tries in that all came when Munster had a cushion.

Their defence of the maul will be a major part of the review, but this was a positive night for Graham Rowntree whose team attacked with confidence and swagger that was summed up by their blindside flanker Tom Ahern who scored twice and was outstanding.

Glasgow couldn’t handle them for long spells, the forwards providing go-forward ball for the excellent Jack Crowley.

Whatever plan the Scots came with, it surely didn't involve coughing up penalty upon penalty which allowed Crowley put his team in position and the Scots couldn't stop Edwin Edogbo powering over from close range.

Crowley converted, the Scots were on warning and they were soon down to 14 men and defending in their ‘22 again as Craig Casey caught Nathan McBeth on the wrong side of the ruck and the big prop walked.

Again, Munster went to the line and put faith in their attack an, again, Glasgow offended and Munster struck while on penalty advantage as Ahern took Shane Daly’s cross-kick and was taken in the air by Sean Kennedy. As the scrum-half looked at the ref, the big blindside picked himself up and burrowed under Duncan Weir to score.

Kennedy escaped a yellow and Crowley missed the touchline conversion, but he barely blinked as he launched an attack from the restart that saw his team sweep from inside their own ‘22 to over the Glasgow line.

It was a breath-taking score, with the out-half finding Antoine Frisch whose offload put Ahern through a gap, he found Sean O’Brien and the winger chipped inside where Alex Nankivell collected. He was hauled down, but Casey arrived to keep the tempo up and captain Diarmuid Barron stepped through the Glasgow cover to score.

This time, Crowley delivered the extras and Glasgow looked like they’d take an early flight home if it was on offer.

Instead, they rolled up their sleeves and a poor Frisch pass gave them a window into the game as Lucio Sordoni pounced but failing to connect with winger Kyle Rowe.

Munster lost their way a little and, when McBeth returned, his team was in a 19-0 hole with just 23 minutes gone.

Their maul has been a weapon all season and, when Weir won an unlikely breakdown penalty, it gave them an opportunity and Sione Vailanu touched down at the back of a dominant push.

Weir was off-target with the conversion and the game settled down a while, with Munster coughing up two good attacking opportunities through lost lineouts.

It didn’t bother them one bit, as they went to their phase game and delivered another stunning try to earn the bonus point.Frisch got them on the front-foot, before Gavin Coombes brilliantly dummied his way past Henco Venter and surged into the ‘22. Casey arrived early and moved the ball left through Beirne, Stephen Archer and Calvin Nash who found Ahern out wide and the Waterford man scored his second.

Crowley kicked the touchline conversion and Munster made it in at the break 26-5 up, but a Johnny Mathews try from the back of another dominant maul dragged Glasgow back into it within three minutes of the restart.

It wouldn’t last, as a combination of Munster pressure and their own ill-discipline led to Nankivell’s first try for Munster as he pounced on a loose ball and dived through the cover.

Sordoni was sin-binned for an offence in the build-up and whatever fight remaining left the Scots with 30 minutes on the clock as Oli Jager was sent on for his Munster debut.

Glasgow looked intent on getting a four-try bonus and Rory Darge forced his way over off the back of another maul. to get them within one and a penalty try from another drive saw them get back to 33-22 and saw Beirne sent to the sin-bin.

Munster went back to their attack, turning down a kickable penalty and getting the reward as John Hodnett forced his way over from the tapped penalty with plenty of heft from Dave Kilcoyne and Jager to help him on his way.

There was still time for one more Glasgow maul try from replacement hooker Angus Fraser – their fifth of the night, meaning there’s plenty for Graham Rowntree to hone in at training.

MUNSTER: S Daly; C Nash, A Frisch, A Nankivbell, S O’Brien; J Crowley (R Scannell 70), C Casey (C Murray 61); J Loughman (D Kilcoyne 52), D Barron (capt) (S Buckley 44), S Archer (O Jager 52); E Edogbo (F Wycherley 62), T Beirne; T Ahern (A Kendellen 56), J Hodnett, G Coombes.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: J McKay (Z Fagerson 52-60); K Rowe, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall (capt), O Smith (O Kebble 20-23), (T Jordan 39); D Weir, S Kennedy (B Afshar 71); N McBeth (O Kebble 51), J Matthews (A Fraser 71), L Sordoni (Z Fagerson 60); S Mantjezi, S Cummings; S Vailanu (T Gordon 76), R Darge, H Venter (M Williamson 51).

Ref: M van der Westhuizen (South Africa).

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