Glasgow Warriors defeated Munster 31-13 to claim victory in the Pro12
Last Updated: 01/06/15 3:17pm
Glasgow Warriors have become the first Scottish side to ever win the Pro12 after producing an outstanding display to thrash Munster 31-13 in the final at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
Munster great Paul O’Connell was making what is likely to be his final appearance for the Irish province but was overshadowed on this occasion by Glasgow second rower Leone Nakarawa, who was the stand-out performer and was named man of the match.
The Warriors were convincingly defeated in last year’s final but were a different side here, running in three tries in a thrilling first half and then adding a fourth in the second to wrap up the victory, when Munster were hinting at a fight back.
Munster had the first chance to get on the scoreboard but Ian Keatley missed an early penalty and Glasgow then took the lead with a brilliant ninth-minute try.
Fijian lock Nakarawa made the score with a superlative run, charging through the middle and eluding two would-be tacklers before offloading to the supporting Rob Harley, who dived over under the posts.
That try was converted by Finn Russell and Glasgow were soon threatening again but the television match official confirmed that Munster’s Keith Earls had managed to push the ball out before DTH van der Merwe could touch down a Russell chip.
Earls and Simon Zebo then got to within inches of the line at the other end but were denied by some fine Glasgow tackling.
However, Munster did then get on the scoreboard, Keatley kicking a penalty after Glasgow infringed at a scrummage.
But the Warriors scored another brilliant try in the 26th-minute and that man Nakarawa was the key figure once again.
This time he bounced off one tackle and then dragged two Munster players along before a one-handed offload to Van der Merwe, who raced down the left-hand touchline to score.
The conversion made it 14-3 and it was 21-3 six minutes later after Glasgow conjured up yet another cracking score.
This time Stuart Hogg made the decisive break, sprinting down the right and leaving tacklers in his wake before passing inside to scrum-half Henry Pyrgos, who had an unopposed run to the line.
But Munster received a boost just before half-time thanks to the determination of centre Andrew Smith, who grabbed a loose ball after a lengthy series of Munster attacks and forced his way past three tacklers to just about ground the ball, the TMO awarding the try after a lengthy look at the replays.
Keatley then kicked a good conversion to make it 10-21 at the interval and Munster were on the attack again at the start of the second half.
O’Connell managed to plunge over the line from close range but Glasgow’s defence held up again and the referee ruled that Van der Merwe had prevented the ball from being grounded.
Munster eventually had to settle for another three points from Keatley, who kicked an easy penalty after another scrummage infringement.
The tide seemed to have turned in favour of Munster but Glasgow bounced back and scored a crucial try with just under half an hour to go.
The Warriors worked their way down to within yards of the line and Russell got the try, slipping through from close range after Pyrgos had cleverly run from left to right to change the direction of the attack.
The score took the wind out of Munster and the rest of the match was something of a party for Glasgow and their followers, who raucously greeted the arrival of long-serving lock and captain Alastair Kellock when he came off the bench for his farewell appearance.
The rain began to pour down in the closing stages but Glasgow’s speedy runners had done their damage by then and replacement Duncan Weir added a little gloss to the scoreline when he kicked a penalty with seven minutes left.
And it was Weir who also booted the ball into touch soon afterwards to bring a great final to an end.