The punishing boot of Ronan O'Gara helped Munster to a 27-19 win over Glasgow in the Magners League on Friday.
The sides scored a try apiece during the first half as winger Denis Hurley crossed for the hosts and stand-in skipper John Barclay grabbed a fine breakaway effort for Glasgow.
Ronan O'Gara and Dan Parks, Scotland's hero against Ireland at Croke Park last weekend, landed three penalties each in a cagey second period, before De Villiers sealed the home win five minutes from time.
Munster made a forceful start, with Mick O'Driscoll and Donncha O'Callaghan turning Ireland's nemesis Parks over in the tackle and Paul Warwick's dinked kick almost put O'Gara and Ian Dowling through for a try.
DTH van der Merwe did well to defend a cross-field kick from O'Gara but Glasgow regained their poise, helped by a powerful set-piece that drove the hosts off their own ball at the first scrum.
O'Gara flashed a kickable penalty wide of the uprights, but Munster had something to show for their early territorial dominance when, on the quarter-hour, Hurley dotted down in the right corner.
Centres De Villiers and Lifeimi Mafi did the damage, breaking through a couple of tackles before Dowling looped a long pass out for Hurley to get over past Van der Merwe.
O'Gara's touchline conversion bounced back off the left-hand post and he managed to add a penalty before Parks opened his account, bending a left-sided kick over from distance.
Munster had the advantage of an extra man when Glasgow centre Graeme Morrison was sin-binned for obstructing Dowling as he chased a 32nd-minute kick.
However, O'Gara was left looking on in horror barely a minute later as his pass on the Glasgow 22 was intercepted by Barclay and the athletic flanker powered all the way to the line, avoiding Mafi's last-gasp tackle.
That lung-bursting score, converted by Parks, left Thomond Park stunned but Munster edged back ahead for half-time as O'Gara's second penalty success left it on a knife edge at 11-10.
Glasgow survived an early second-half onslaught as the Munster forwards stepped it up a gear, and Parks punted the Scots ahead again with his second penalty.
With defences on top and Glasgow struggling to use their advantage in the scrum, Munster picked off a series of penalties - three in all from O'Gara - to move 20-13 ahead, the third coming after Glasgow replacement Kevin Tkachuk was sin-binned for a ruck offence.
Munster wobbled when flanker Niall Ronan was dispatched to the bin for a similar infringement, 13 minutes from the end, and Parks closed the gap to 20-19 with two more well-struck penalties.
But a tiring Glasgow side could produce no more and Munster put in a stronger finish, with De Villiers breaking past Max Evans on the 22 and deftly touching down in the corner, under pressure from Morrison and replacement Hefin O'Hare.
O'Gara's touchline conversion was the icing on the cake, denying the Warriors a bonus point in the process.
Tries: Hurley, De Villiers
Pens: O'Gara 5
Pens: Parks 4
Munster: 15 Paul Warwick, 14 Denis Hurley, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Ian Dowling, 10 Ronan O'Gara (capt), 9 Peter Stringer, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Denis Fogarty, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Ryan, 18 Billy Holland, 19 Nick Williams, 20 Duncan Williams, 21 Tom Gleeson, 22 Doug Howlett.
Glasgow: 15 Bernardo Stortoni, 14 Peter Murchie, 13 Max Evans, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay (captain), 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Dan Turner, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Moray Low, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Jon Welsh.
Replacements: 16 Fergus Thomson, 17 Kevin Tkachuk, 18 Tim Barker, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Mark McMillan, 21 Colin Gregor, 22 Hefin O'Hare.
Referee: James Jones (WRU)
Assistant Referees: D Wilkinson (IRFU), M Hermin (IRFU)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (IRFU)