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PRO12 glory for Glasgow in Belfast

Published 30/05/2015

Gregor Townsend's have become the first Scottish side to win the Glasgow Guinness PRO12 title
Gregor Townsend's have become the first Scottish side to win the Glasgow Guinness PRO12 title

Glasgow deservedly won the Guinness PRO12 title for the first time and became the first Scottish side to win the league with a 31-13 victory over Munster at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Saturday.

There was no fairytale send-off for Paul O'Connell, in his final game for Munster before his move to France, with Warriors' veteran Al Kellock heading into retirement as a winner as Glasgow made up for last season's losing PRO12 final by lifting the silverware.

Three first-half tries from Glasgow - scored by Rob Harley, DTH van der Merwe and Henry Pyrgos - put Gregor Townsend's side in the driving seat and, after leading 21-10 at half-time, the Warriors sealed the deal with Finn Russell's 59th-minute touchdown.

Russell scored 13 of Glasgow's total - the other points coming via a Duncan Weir penalty - but man of the match Leone Nakawara was immense. Munster managed a try from Andrew Smith, with a conversion and two penalties from Ian Keatley.

The Warriors started with clear intent through a multi-phase attack which broke down in Munster's 22, but the Irish province responded in kind and also had the first scoring chance through a long-range Ian Keatley penalty attempt which fell short.

Munster's skipper Denis Hurley then had to look sharp with a tap-tackle which brought Van der Merwe down after the Warriors winger had broken clear. But Glasgow - playing into the strong breeze - still managed to strike first after Nakarawa surged up the middle and his offload to Harley saw the flanker score under the sticks.

Russell added the conversion and the Warriors were 7-0 up after only eight minutes.

Ten minutes later and Van der Merwe nearly got on the end of Russell's chip but the ball went dead after the winger had been challenged by Keith Earls. Munster needed some form of response and it nearly came from Earls two minutes later after Russell's kick was charged down by CJ Stander, but the Ireland winger was held short from a rare counter-attack.

Keatley, though, got them back in the game in the 24th minute after the Warriors were penalised at a scrum and he slotted the penalty for Munster's first score.

But, shortly after the restart, Glasgow quickly got the ball and an attack down the blindside saw Nakarawa offload over the top of a defender to just give Van der Merwe enough space to get the score and run round to touchdown behind the posts. Russell's conversion made it 14-3 to the Warriors.

Then, just after the half-hour mark, came what appeared to be a killer blow when Munster lost the ball in contact and the Warriors countered with lightning pace which saw Stuart Hogg scythe through to put Pyrgos through and he dotted down under the posts.

Russell converted and the Warriors were 21-3 ahead and looking comfortable. Munster now had to respond with something and, after Duncan Williams had made a strong surge, Smith barrelled over and - after some consultation with the television match official - the 37th-minute score was awarded.

Keatley added the extras to narrow the Warriors' lead to 21-10, which is how the half ended.

Munster upped the ante as they had to and a series of penalties brought them deep into the Warriors' 22, which only saw them get three points back from Keatley's 48th-minute shot at goal from close in.

It did not look like a good enough return and so it proved with the Warriors getting their fourth try just short of the hour after some great approach work saw Russell get over and convert to make it 28-13.

Then with seven minutes remaining, replacement Weir landed a penalty to take the Warriors' lead up to a commanding 31-13.

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