A THIRD consecutive defeat in the PRO12 is far from ideal preparation for the resumption of their Champions Cup campaign, but Glasgow Warriors simply did not enough to avoid that outcome in an error-strewn performance against Munster. They rallied well in the second half from 13-3 down to lead by a point with five minutes to play before Ian Keatley sealed the win for the visitors, and the spirit they showed later on will encourage them to believe that better times are not too far away, but over the course of the match they were second best by a fair margin.

Some mistakes might have been down to the slippery conditions, but there was no denying that the league leaders were the stronger and more tactically astute side until they buckled late on. It was the first time since Gregor Townsend took over as head coach that Glasgow had lost three league games in a row within the same season, and the loss was made worse by worrying injuries to Pete Horne, who had to be stretchered off midway through the first half, and Rory Hughes, who suffered the same fate in the early stages of the second. With the European double-header against Racing 92 coming up, Townsend could do with having as full a squad as possible from which to choose.

The absence of 19 internationals took its toll in the previous losses to Ospreys and Scarlets, of course - other teams were also without internationals, but few had anything close to that number missing. Ten of that 19 were back last night, but Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Jonny Gray were among those still on the sidelines. Without arguably their three most important players, the Warriors struggled for cohesion and direction.

Munster were themselves without key men such as Simon Zebo, Conor Murray and CJ Stander, but appeared more focused from the start. Ian Keatley opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty, and Munster soon went further ahead with the first try of the night. The stand-off sent a diagonal kick soaring towards the right corner, Peter Murchie failed to gather on the full, and Andrew Conway seized on the ball for a simple score. Keatley converted, then Glasgow opened their account with a Horne penalty five minutes or so before the No 10 was replaced by Rory Clegg.

An excellent break by Nick Grigg was the first real incisive move by the home team, but their attempts at going through the phases were undone by some ferocious counter-rucking. The sinbinning of Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne for a lineout offence 15 minutes before half-time promised to open play up a little, but the only score during the ten minutes was another penalty from Keatley.

Glasgow’s injury woes continued when Hughes went off, and the stoppage seemed to disrupt the high tempo with which they had begun the second 40. But Ali Price, who had been their most impressive performer throughout, grabbed a lifeline when he wrongfooted half the Munster defence and outran the other half from a lineout to score beneath the posts. Clegg converted, and all the customary passion came flooding back into Glasgow’s game.

With ten minutes left, another break up the right saw Tommy Seymour put Mark Bennett in with a superb pass. This time Clegg missed the conversion, and with four minutes left Keatley had the last word with a drop goal.

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Price, Bennett. Con: Clegg. Pen: Horne.

Munster: Try: Conway. Con: Keatley. Pens: Keatley 2. Drop goal: Keatley.

Glasgow Warriors: P Murchie; T Seymour, N Grigg, M Bennett, R Hughes (L Jones 45); P Horne (R Clegg 22), A Price; G Reid (A Allan 52), F Brown (C Flynn 52), S Puafisi (D Rae 61), R Harley, T Swinson, J Strauss (L Haupeakui 56), C Fusaro (R McAlpine 77), R Wilson. Unused substitute: N Kenatale.

Munster: A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell (D Goggin 77), R O'Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams (T Toma 65); D Kilcoyne, N Scannell (R Marshall 77), J Ryan (S Archer 61), J Kleyn (D Ryan 41), B Holland, P O'Mahony (R Copeland 56), T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue. Unused substitutes: T du Toit, D Goggin, A Wootton.

Referee: N Owens (Wales). Attendance: 7351.