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May 16, 2014

Glasgow Warriors 16 - 15 Munster

GUINNESS PRO12 match played at Scotstoun on Friday May 16th 2014 | No comments

Gordon Reid went over for Glasgow's try
Glasgow Warriors edged out Munster 16-15 Scotstoun this evening to become the first Scottish team to book a place in the PRO12 final.

The Irish visitors had taken an early lead when hooker Damien Varley crossed over to score but three penalties from stand-off Finn Russell had the hosts in front at half-time.

Gordon Reid - a first-half replacement for the injured prop Ryan Grant - then put the Warriors even further ahead with a touchdown just after the restart.

But Sean Dougall's 51st-minute try and a penalty from Ian Keatley made for a nervy last half hour.

Gregor Townsend's men, though, showed resilience to set up a clash with either Leinster or Ulster in the final on May 31.

Played out in front of a record 10,000-strong crowd, it was Glasgow's fourth PRO12 semi-final but first held on home soil.

Having lost their three previous last-four contests, there was an air of expectancy amongst the Warriors faithful and their side did not disappoint.

On the back of eight successive wins, the Scots were confident while Munster had struggled to reignite their season since Toulon ended their Heineken Cup ambitions in the semis three weeks ago.

But Rob Penney put his faith in the same side defeated 24-16 in Marseille for their trip across the Irish Sea.

Most of the crowd, though, missed his team take the lead after 10 minutes as Glasgow centre Alex Dunbar and the Limerick side's wing Keith Earls exchanged punches off the ball.

Strangely, both men escaped punishment but their dust-up was enough to distract those watching while Varley just about grounded the ball after a strong drive by the visitors' pack.

The TMO had to be called in to sanction the score before Keatley added the extras.

It was not the start the hosts had been looking for but after missing his first penalty attempt, Russell nailed the next to get Glasgow off the mark.

There was a scare for the Scots when Italian referee Marius Mitrea was forced to go upstairs again on the half-hour mark after Simon Zebo crashed towards the line just as Rob Harley looked to have held him up. This time the TV judge did not see enough of the whitewash to give the try.

And with that let off, another two successful penalties from Russell ensured Glasgow nudged themselves ahead at the break.

Townsend's team came out fired up for the start of the second half and took just six minutes to extend their lead.

Munster made a mess of their own line-out and from the scrum that followed, Reid was the eventual benefactor as Glasgow remained calm with the line in sight.

Russell converted but the nine-point lead was soon trimmed back to just four as Dougall dived over for an unconverted score after the Scots had allowed Munster to work the ball from one flank to the other far too easily after a line-out.

But when Leone Nakarawa was penalised for failing to release, Keatley drove a firm kick through the posts to leave the game on a knife-edge with just 15 minutes remaining.

Some of Mitrea's calls were infuriating for the home crowd but substitute scrum-half Niko Matawalu soon had them cheering with a couple of daring runs to take the pressure off his creaking defence.

But that was nothing compared to the roar that followed when Tommy Seymour intercepted JJ Hanrahan's pass to drive Munster back 40 yards with a minute-and-a-half remaining.

The wing was pegged back before he could finish off the Irish but it was enough to set-up Glasgow's date with destiny in a fortnight.

Referee Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Attendance 10,000
Man of the Match Jonny Gray
Ryan Grant
Dougie Hall
Jon Welsh
Jonny Gray
Alastair Kellock
Robert Harley
Chris Fusaro
Josh Strauss
Chris Cusiter
Finn Russell
Tommy Seymour
Alex Dunbar
Mark Bennett
Sean Maitland
Peter Murchie
Pat MacArthur
Gordon Reid
Geoff Cross
Tim Swinson
Leone Nakarawa
Nikola Matawalu
Ruaridh Jackson
Sean Lamont
Match Substitutions
Off On
Ryan Grant Gordon Reid
Off On
Josh Strauss Leone Nakarawa
Off On
Dougie Hall Pat MacArthur
Off On
Alastair Kellock Tim Swinson
Off On
Chris Cusiter Nikola Matawalu
Off On
Mark Bennett Ruaridh Jackson
Off On
Chris Fusaro Sean Lamont
Finn Russell Penalty
Finn Russell Penalty
Finn Russell Penalty
Gordon Reid Try 
Finn Russell Conversion