Guinness PRO12: Glasgow Warriors need to get better, says Townsend

Head coach wants improved performance as the Scottish club face top four opposition in their final two matches

Gregor Townsend insists Glasgow Warriors must improve if they are to win the Guinness PRO12 this season.

The league leaders know that a bonus-point win at the Ospreys tonight will be enough to secure a home semi-final ahead of the interprovincial clash between Ulster and Munster on Saturday afternoon.

We’ve had three good performances in terms of results since the Six Nations, but we know there’s a number of areas we need to get better if we’re going to win these next few games.

Gregor Townsend

Confidence is high among the Warriors squad and supporters, but the Warriors head coach is not getting carried away despite a strong momentum that has seen pick up try-scoring bonus points in their last four matches despite being far from the top of their game in patches.

Townsend has made five changes for the penultimate round of the PRO12 with Duncan Weir making his first start since January in place of Finn Russell at stand-off, while back-row forward Ryan Wilson is on the bench after his three-month suspension imposed by the Scottish Rugby Union.

And the Warriors head coach adds that the players are fully aware of just how much a win against the Ospreys means to the club’s fortunes.

“They realise the importance,” Townsend said. “For one, they obviously want to be selected in the team and play well, which gives them a better chance of playing in the next game.

“From a club point of view, we need to win one of these two games to get a home semi-final.

“We want to keep the momentum going.

“We’ve had three good performances in terms of results since the Six Nations, but we know there’s a number of areas we need to get better if we’re going to win these next few games.

Townsend is wary of the Ospreys who, along with the Warriors and Ulster, have not lost at home in the PRO12 this season.

We’ve got a good record down there, but I’m sure that’ll be highly motivating for the Ospreys

Gregor Townsend

Despite a surprise decision to drop Wales flanker Dan Lydiate, the Ospreys have included their influential internationals Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb, who were all absent when the Warriors scored two late penalties at Scotstoun Stadium in February to edge out the Ospreys 19-16.

“The challenge facing us weekend is an excellent side,” he added.

“They haven’t lost at home since February 2014.

“We’ve got a good record down there, but I’m sure that’ll be highly motivating for the Ospreys – they haven’t beaten us for two or three years, so they’ll certainly be up for this and they’ve got to go to Connacht next weekend as well, so they’ve got a challenging couple of games left.

“Winning creates a lot of confidence – the players have done that over the last couple of games, so it’d be great to continue that.”

While the Warriors’ primary target is a home semi-final as a springboard to a second PRO12 final in 12 months, Townsend played down the necessity of finishing top of the PRO12 with this year’s final being held at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium.

“It would have been more of an aim in previous seasons,” he said.

“You want to win your games, create confidence, and finishing top of the log maybe isn’t as significant as it used to be, but it’s still nice to do.

“We’ve never done that as a club and that’s going to take two wins – that’s what we’re aiming for, but we know that’s going to be very tough.”

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Ben John, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Tyler Ardron, Alun Wyn Jones (Capt), James King, Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Marc Thomas, Dmitri Arhip, Rory Thornton, Dan Lydiate; Tom Habberfield, Sam Davies, Jonathan Spratt.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Richie Vernon, Peter Horne, Niko Matawalu; Duncan Weir, Henry Pyrgos; Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Jon Welsh, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss (captain).

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Euan Murray, Leone Nakarawa, Ryan Wilson; Lee Jones, Fraser Lyle, Peter Murchie.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

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