RaboDirect Pro12: Gregor Townsend wants Glasgow to continue momentum

RaboDirect Pro12: Gregor Townsend calls on Glasgow Warriors to keep their momentum going

Gregor Townsend has called on his Glasgow Warriors side to keep the momentum going as they face their third match in a run of eight consecutive match weekends.

The Scottish side are currently fifth in the RaoDirect Pro12 with two games in hand on their rivals above and below them, but could go fourth on Friday night if they win the first of those extra games against Italian side Treviso at Scotstoun Stadium.

We know how important wins are throughout the season, but especially at this point in the season

Gregor Townsend

“It’s our third home game in a row on the back of two big wins for us—wins we put a huge effort into—against a team that’s full of confidence,” said Townsend.

“We know the challenge. There’s opportunities for other players, players who came back in, but missed out in last week’s game so they’re buzzing and we’ve got a real desire to keep the momentum going.

“Every game’s important. We’re playing at home, there is a knowledge that we’d go above Ospreys, but you want to keep the momentum going, you want to improve on the performance on the week before and there were a lot of areas we needed to improve on from last week, but if we play with the same effort we showed against Scarlets and Ospreys we’ll be in a good position.

“We know how important wins are throughout the season, but especially at this point in the season with other teams not playing [in the league] this weekend, just to push the other teams around us would be great.”

The former Scotland international has made nine changes from the side which came from behind for the sixth time this season to narrowly defeat the Ospreys 11-9 last week.

These include a debut for Scotland tighthead prop Geoff Cross, who is on loan at the Warriors from Edinburgh, and Townsend hopes Cross can have an immediate impact as he comes in for the injured Jon Welsh who has impressed in the scrum in recent weeks.

“Both Geoff and [fellow tighthead] Moray [Low] know that Jon has scrummed really well in the last couple of games and it’s been something that we’ve been really pleased with,” Townsend added.

“The Scarlets are ranked the number two scrum in the league and we did well that night and last week I thought we kept our discipline well and drove back the Ospreys on a few occasions.

“Treviso, traditionally, their strengths are in the forward pack with the experienced props that they have, very good hooker in [Leonardo] Ghiraldini so it’s a big match for our front five.

“What we’ve seen from Treviso is that if you don’t take your opportunities and get ahead of them they’re going to be in there for the whole 80 minutes and make it very tough and they are confident.

“They have some players who played really well in the Six Nations. Big forward strength, they’ve selected two big centres in Alberto Sgarbi and Christian Loamanu so we can expect they’ll be hard, direct runners and we’ve got to defend well.”

Townsend was also keen to stress the importance of getting the win to get into the top four rather than worrying about his side’s lack of try-scoring bonus points this season after the Warriors set club and league records for their free-scoring efforts last season en route to a third-place finish and semi-final against eventual champions Leinster.

“We’ll have to play very well to get the win and things like bonus points tend to come on what type of game it is,” he said. “If it becomes an open game, if both teams are moving the ball around there may be more opportunities, but it’ll depend on the conditions – it’s easier to play attacking rugby on drier nights.

“We realise that results are very important and if we were to lose it puts ourselves under pressure. We’ve got a big opportunity to get in the top four with five games remaining, but this will be a really tough game.

“We’ve seen Treviso play with much more confidence in the last two weeks and there’s two reasons for that: the first one is it looks like their future is secure for next season so the players are much more secure in where they’ll be, and the second one is the amount of Italian internationals that have come back into their team.”

With a lot of talk of late over the overuse of Television Match Officials by referees in recent weeks, there will be none of that in Glasgow on Friday with no TV coverage from a stadium that does not have the giant TV screens which have become commonplace in the larger rugby stadia around the world, so no pressure for referee Guiseppe Vivarini in just his 12th competitive match.

But Townsend hopes his side will make it easy on the Italian official.

“We’re looking forward to Mr Vivirini, he’s refereed us this year down at Scarlets and we’ve got to make his job as easy as possible,” he added.

“I’m comfortable with it, it happens the other way around – we played Zebre last year and had a Scottish referee over there, we have Irish referees when we’re playing Irish teams quite a fair bit and you have to play better than the ref refs.

“Like a stand-off, or like any player, you’re going to make mistakes in a game so we do understand that mistakes are made. We’ve got to make it as easy as possible for the referee and be really disciplined in how we play.”

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