Passion drives Munster to victory
REPORT: Munster paid fitting tribute to the late Anthony Foley with a bonus-point 38-17 win over Glasgow Warriors at an emotionly-charged Thomond Park.
Munster had to shake off a Keith Earls' red card to claim a five-try victory.
Limerick had witnessed many special occasions in Europe but none had been so passionate as this fixture, just seven days after the death of head coach and European Cup winner Anthony Foley.
Club legends Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara were among the 26 500 full-house that gathered to show their support for the club after a difficult week.
The question was whether the raw emotion would inspire or hinder the men in specially commissioned red jerseys that featured the embroidered name 'Axel'.
And it took just three minutes for the players to give an emphatic answer as Man of the Match Tyler Bleyendaal darted over for the first of Munster's five tries. Jaco Taute, Simon Zebo and Rory Scannell all followed while a penalty try by their dominant scrum earned the bonus point.
It was a miserable day for Glasgow, who briefly responded in the second half with tries from Pat McArthur and Mark Bennett, but they could not cope with the passion and drive of Munster.
Flyhalf Bleyendaal angled his run from Earls pass to score on his champions Cup debut and then kept his composure to convert from the left touchline in the third minute.
Finn Russell kicked a penalty but it was another Munster player that scored a try on his European debut when Taute crossed.
It was 18 minutes before Glasgow mounted their first attack and it led to what could have been a game-changing moment when Earls was shown a red card for his tip-tackle on Glasgow hooker Fraser Brown.
But Russell missed the resulting penalty and Munster, rather than hindered, were galvanised by the sending off, with their scrum doing the damage.
It won a penalty that Bleyendaal converted, to lead 17-3, and forced Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend into changes, bringing on forwards Alex Reid and Simone Favaro before half-time.
That failed to halt Munster's irresistible surge as Scannell darted through and Zebo did well to edge past Stuart Hogg for his 16th European try.
The scrum then flexed its collective muscles once again after Conor Murray and CJ Stander, wearing No.24 following the retirement of Foley's No.8 jersey for the day, went close.
And it was only a matter of time until referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty and Munster had the bonus just six minutes into the second half.
Glasgow finally mustered a response through their replacements as McArthur and Bennett crossed in the space of six minutes. But any glimmer of hope Warriors had of pinching bonus point of their own were snuffed out when Scannell latched onto Murray's pass six minutes from time.
Tries: Bleyendaal, Taute, Zebo, Penalty try, Scannell
Cons: Bleyendaal 4, Keatley
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: MacArthur, Bennett
Cons: Hogg 2
Red Card: Earls (Munster Rugby)
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 24 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Brian Scott, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ronan O'Mahony.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos (co-captain), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ryan Wilson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (co-captain), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Lewis Wynne, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Ali Price, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Peter Murchie.
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Adrien Descottes (France), Sébastien Clouté (France)
TMO: Arnaud Blondel (France)