RaboDirect Pro12: Townsend promises Glasgow won’t get carried away

RaboDirect Pro12: Greg Townsend says Glasgow Warriors won't get carried away in their pursuit of a home quarter-final

Gregor Townsend has said his side are gunning for rivals Edinburgh today but won’t get carried away with a potential RaboDirect Pro12 home semi-final within their grasp.

After rain washed out the second leg of the 1872 Cup clash on New Year’s Day, the two Scottish sides clash with more than just bragging rights at stake on the weekend when all eyes are on the European semi-final showdowns.

We’re playing in the 1872 Cup and there’s a trophy at stake, but also there’s a semi-final place at stake

Gregor Townsend

The 1872 Cup has been firmly rooted in the west of Scotland in recent years, but the Warriors have just a four-point advantage going into the second leg in front of what is expected to be a record crowd for a rugby match in Glasgow.

“Every game we play, the players know they have to perform well, whether it’s the game the week later against Treviso or our last game of the season against Zebre, or this game,” Townsend said.

“We’ve certainly got a highly motivated group for two reasons: we’re playing in the 1872 Cup and there’s a trophy at stake, but also there’s a semi-final place at stake if we do well over the next two or three games.”

Edinburgh haven’t won in Glasgow since 2003 and have found themselves struggling in the bottom half of the Pro12 in Alan Solomons’ first season in charge, the South African littering his side with southern hemisphere imports.

But Townsend refuses to write them off despite the gulf between them this season with internationals Tim Visser and captain Greig Laidlaw back in the ranks.

“I think I said after [the 20-16 win over Edinburgh at Murrayfield in December], certainly for the first 50-60 minutes, they were the better team,” Townsend added.

“We didn’t play as well as we can, partly due to the fact that Edinburgh played well, but also we’d went away from the game plan that we’d gone into it to play.

“But what we did well was we kept playing for 80 minutes and we took our opportunities and it was a tough place to get the win because at the time Edinburgh were playing really good rugby.

“You see the team they’ve picked—it’s a quality side. It’s probably their best forward pack they could put out there, and you’ve got guys like Tim Visser and Matt Scott in the backline who are some of the best attackers in the game.”

The Warriors go into the match knowing that a win will take them level on 68 points with second-placed Munster, but will overtake them through the first tie break, winning 16 games to Munster’s 15.

And while there is still talk of a lack of bonus points this season, Townsend has stressed the importance of winning rather than the number of tries they can rack up against a side.

“Winning the game is the most important thing,” he said. “We are aware of the situation with Munster and if we were to win the game we’d be equal points with them going into the last two games of the season, but we’ll have to play well to win the game.

“If we get two bonus-point victories in the last three games we get a home semi-final, we’re aware of that. There’s nothing Munster can do to beat that.

“Munster do have a couple of tricky games left, one of them being Edinburgh away and then Ulster at home, so you never know what’s going to happen over those two games.

“We know we’ve got a very tough game here against our biggest rivals. We have to go to Italy to play Treviso, who looked really good against Edinburgh two weeks ago and then we’ve got the ever-improving Zebre team, so we’ve got to focus on doing our jobs right this weekend.

“Regarding bonus points, it’s been frustration at times and I’ll put my hands up, over in Zebre we scored three tries after 50 minutes and making replacements at that stage didn’t help the game and we didn’t manage to get that bonus point, but I’ll certainly take our last two victories scoring three tries away at Munster and three tries against the best defensive team at the time, Ulster.”

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