MUNSTER were firmly put to the sword by an impressive Glasgow Warriors side on Saturday night at Thomond Park, as four unanswered first half tries from the Scottish side gave Munster too much of a mountain to climb.
Glasgow struck first with an unstoppable maul try in the 6th minute, with hooker Fraser Brown gescoring, after the Munster scrum had conceded a penalty from the first scrum of the game.
The Munster pack would not have enjoyed being manhandled so physically in front of their home crowd, and they attempted to reply in kind almost immediately, only for Gavin Coombes to be held up over the Glasgow tryline.
Munster looked extremely flat early on, and it was no surprise when Glasgow scored again in the 25th minute through captain Stafford McDowall. The big centre barged right through a poor tackle from Mike Haley and despite the best efforts of Joey Carbery and Calvin Nash to hold him up, he just about managed to touch some grass with the football.
It kept getting worse from a Munster perspective, as a number of errors, including a dummy throw at a lineout by Diarmuid Barron, presented Glasgow with yet another attacking platform, and they fully capitalised when Argentinean out-half Domingo Miotti found a gap in the Munster defence to dot down in the 32nd minute.
The nightmare first half was completed when right winger Cole Forbes walked in an easy try in the left corner right on the whistle, after some sublime handling and offloading by Glasgow in an incredibly tight corridor along the left touchline. The score left Munster trailing 0-28 at the break, in what was one of the worst 40 minutes for Munster in living memory.
Miotti kept the scoreboard moving with a drop goal in the 45th minute as Glasgow resembled the All Blacks such was the quality of their slick play, as well as their dark attire.
Munster got the awful looking duck off the scoreboard in the 53rd minute when Gavin Coombes managed to touchdown with a typical effort off of an attacking maul, and when Craig Casey sniped in for a try four minutes later suddenly the Thomond Park faithful started to believe that a miraculous recovery just might be on.
Those thoughts lasted only four minutes, however, as they were ended when the big Tongan number eight Sione Vailanu barrelled over from close range, after a strong carry by winger Jamie Dobie.
After considerable pressure inside the Glasgow 22 Munster managed to nab a third try in the 71st minute when prop Josh Wycherley burrowed over from a yard out, with him using the post to engineer the gap.
Calvin Nash collected a long looping pass from Casey in the 78th minute and scored in the corner to ensure Munster at least got a bonus point from proceedings, but they ultimately ran out of time, meaning an away quarter-final in Glasgow is now a distinct possibility for Munster in a few weeks time.
J Carbery (2 cons), J Crowley (1 con), G Coombes, C Casey, J Wycherley, C Nash (1 try each).
D Miotti (1 try, 5 cons, 1 drop), F Brown, S McDowall, C Forbes, S Vailanu (1 try each).
M Haley; C Nash, M Fekitoa, J Crowley, S Daly; J Carbery, P Patterson; D Kilcoyne, D Barron, R Salanoa; J Kleyn, F Wycherley; J O’Donoghue (c), J Hodnett, G Coombes.
J Wycherley for Kilcoyne (40), Casey for Patterson (45), S Buckley, S Archer and A Kendellen for D Barron, R Salanoa and J O’Donoghue (52), RG Snyman for J Kleyn (60), R Scannell for J Carbery (63), S Zebo for M Haley (67).
O Smith, C Forbes, S McDowall (capt), S Johnson, J Dobie, D Miotti, A Price; N McBeth, F Brown, Z Fagerson, JP du Preez, S Cummings, M Fagerson, R Darge, S Vailanu.
T Jordan for O Smith (25), O Smith for T Jordan (37), J Matthews for F Brown (47), A Dell and G Horne for N McBeth and A Price (57), L Sordoni for Z Fagerson (66), A Samuel and T Jordan for M Fagerson and D Miotti (78).
Andrea Piardi (IRF)