RaboDirect Pro12: ‘Glasgow need to be at their best against Ulster’
RaboDirect Pro12: Matt Taylor warns Glasgow that they'll need to be at their best against Ulster after last weekend's heroics
Matt Taylor believes Glasgow Warriors will have to be at their best for Friday’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash against Ulster as the league’s best two defences face off.
The Scottish side have given up just 250 points and 17 tries from 18 games compared to Ulster’s 253 points and 20 tries from 19 games.
We’re aware that our next game is our biggest game of the season and Ulster had a good win at Connacht, so we need to be at our best
But, despite handing Munster their first home defeat of the season and lowest points haul in the league since October 2009 with a 22-5 win at Thomond Park on Saturday, the Australia-born Warriors assistant coach believes there is still room for improvement.
“We’ve just had another good look at [the Munster match] and I think we still conceded six line breaks, which isn’t great, but what sets us apart maybe from other teams is our ability to scramble and get back and fight for one another and make sure our line’s not crossed,” Taylor said.
“I think we did that really well and the amount of turnovers we produced was great as well. I think we forced about 20 turnovers and to do that to a team like Munster, which is renowned for not turning over many ball, was great.
“For a club to go over there and win at Munster—where we haven’t done that since 2008—was a good achievement and for the other guys that were here at the Melrose Sevens that was a great day for the club.”
The unexpected win in Limerick was the Warriors’ fourth in as many weeks as they play catch up on their play-off rivals and Gregor Townsend’s side are on a roll after clawing their way into fourth place with four games remaining, including one in hand of the rest of the top six.
“I think you’re only as good as your last game so we need to perform at a really high level to ensure that we beat Ulster on the weekend,” Taylor added.
“We’ll have to deal with their kicking game and front up defensively. In saying that, they’re going to have to deal with us as well.
“If we can play to the same sort of intensity as we did at the weekend, any side is going to find it hard to play against us.”
Ulster got back to winning ways last week with a 58-12 demolition job on provincial rivals Connacht which lifted them above Munster into a coveted home semi-final position for the end of season play-offs.
And the Warriors will be hoping that the match is more comfortable than the reverse fixture in September which needed a last-gasp James Eddie try to snatch a 13-12 win.
Taylor, who doubles up as Scotland’s defence coach, hopes that the Warriors defence can drive them to a top two finish for the first time with no away side having won a Pro12 semi-final, something the Warriors know only too well from their three appearances in the play-offs.
“We always know that defence is a big part of what we’re all about at Glasgow,” Taylor said.
“I think defence often wins you games and wins you championships. The last couple of games we’ve been pretty good in that area.
“We’re aware that our next game is our biggest game of the season and Ulster had a good win at Connacht, so we need to be at our best.
“If we can manage to put in a good performance it will push us, hopefully, up the table and maybe put in a position that we can finish the season second.
“I think in any competition you often find, statistically, if you can manage to have a home semi you’ve got a better chance of progressing through. That’s what we’re striving for, but, again, it’s a game-by-game proposition.”