Needing a bonus-point win to keep their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup for the first time, the Warriors were unable to find the fourth try after Canadian wing DTH van der Merwe had scored a hat-trick with 11 minutes remaining.
I think when you go up against a French team and win you should be really happy, but as you can tell we are disappointed by how we weren’t able to make the most of our opportunities.
Despite the scoreline, it was a comfortable if unconvincing win for the Warriors against an out-of-sorts French team still coming to terms with a change in a brutal shake up of their management structure and a potential summer exodus with many players fighting to secure their futures.
The stunning away performance produced by rivals Bath Rugby to win 35-18 in Toulouse on Sunday afternoon makes the Warriors’ task of securing a win at The Rec on Sunday even more unlikely with Mike Ford’s men looking a far more confident and cohesive unit from the one that was comprehensively outfought in a 37-10 win for the Warriors at Scotstoun in October.
And Warriors head coach Townsend was left despondent after seeing his side lack a clinical edge in the opposition 22.
“It was frustrating to spurn so many chances to score tries,” he said.
“I think when you go up against a French team and win you should be really happy, but as you can tell we are disappointed by how we weren’t able to make the most of our opportunities.
“A lot of that came down to sometimes over-eagerness and the accuracy and decision-making in that last 22 wasn’t at the level it needs to be in this competition.”
The visitors were pinged 21 times and had two men sin-binned for deliberate offsides in the red zone, but the Warriors failed to score a single point in the first of those 10-minute advantages despite being camped on the Montpellier tryline.
Even more frustrating for the Warriors was that they were at fault for failing to convert their chances as much as Montpellier held firm under intense pressure.
It was better in the second half, but we weren’t clinical enough even then
A lack of patience, handling errors, inaccurate kicking for touch and a misfiring lineout proved costly and it needed the return from injury of scrum-half Henry Pyrgos in the second half to ignite the Warriors’ attack as he twice sent van der Merwe through the Montpellier defence.
Despite the improved performance in the second half, Townsend concedes his players weren’t clinical enough when it mattered.
“When you create opportunities and put pace on the ball and get down into that area, it is a lot about outworking the opposition and doing the simple things and tries will come or, if not, penalties and yellow cards will come,” Townsend added.
“We maybe rushed things and we didn’t get in our right shape when we got close to the tryline.
“It was better in the second half, but we weren’t clinical enough even then.
“Not kicking the goals meant we were going to lineouts, sometimes we didn’t execute the lineout, but other times we did get the ball and we got close to the tryline, so that was the goal — to take opportunities — we just didn’t take them.”
Bath’s surprising win at Pool 4 leaders Toulouse has blown open the possibility of automatic qualification for the West Country club or the Warriors if the French behemoths are overturned by Montpellier.
While the four-time European champions go into the match as overwhelming favourites, victory is by no means certain as Jake White gets to grips with life at Montpellier, and the Rugby World Cup-winning coach’s sides aren’t known for rolling over easily.
Should Montpellier cause a shock at home that would mean a win for the Warriors would see them top the pool, and Townsend accepts that his squad know they’ll need to be better to make that a possibility.
“Playing Sunday will give ourselves and Bath prior knowledge of what is required,” he said.
“There’s a couple of guys in the back row, who are carrying injuries or are injured, but we have a strong depth in our squad and we know whatever team we put out next week will have to play better.”
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