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Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend expecting tight battle against Edinburgh

Published 24/12/2015

Glasgow Warriors' head coach Gregor Townsend is preparing for a tough challenge when his side take on Edinburgh on Sunday
Glasgow Warriors' head coach Gregor Townsend is preparing for a tough challenge when his side take on Edinburgh on Sunday

Gregor Townsend admits he may have to draw up a special masterplan if Glasgow are to find a way through Edinburgh's water-tight defence.

The Warriors will face up to the meanest rear-guard in the Guinness Pro12 when they travel to Murrayfield for the first leg of the 1872 Cup on Sunday.

The festive double header - which also has league points at stake - will have an added spice this year for the Scotstoun troops after they saw their five-year run of dominance halted by the Gunners last January.

Since then, Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has continued to stiffen the spine of his side.

Scotland flanker John Hardie's capture following the World Cup has added to their now solid mix of pace and aggression at the breakdown and the result has seen them ship just nine tries in the league so far this term.

Glasgow are in confident mood after back-to-back victories over Scarlets put them on course to reach the European Champions Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

But Warriors boss Townsend is concerned it will take something special to cut Edinburgh open.

He said: "Edinburgh are improving all the time. When we played them last season they were better than the year before.

"What they have done this year is really build on what was already a strong defence. They are now the strongest defence in the league and have conceded the fewest tries.

"They are aggressive and very hard to break down. They work well together and the way they tackle slows down the ball.

"You've got individuals like John Hardie and Hamish Watson who have been in fantastic form too. Add to that, they have a scrum that's also rated the best in our league with the three guys that have been starting in the front-row for Scotland - Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel.

"So they will be a tough side to beat. We've been working this week on how to break them down and it might be we go away from our traditional game plan and look at other ways to get through them."

It was a shock to Glasgow last year when they found themselves toppled from their inter-city perch.

Edinburgh's players wildly lapped up a 26-24 aggregate win after their second-leg win at Murrayfield but Townsend insists revenge is not a motivating factor.

Instead, he reckons the lure of convincing Scotland coach Vern Cotter that they should be included in his group for the upcoming RBS 6 Nations campaign will be of a bigger concern to the players.

"Those scenes last year was a good reminder of how much this game means to both teams," he said. "Edinburgh really celebrated their win last year and they deserved it. We will have to play very well to win the trophy back.

"A lot of the guys here played in those games last year and we know we underperformed. We have got to set high standards every game we play but we haven't really spoken about last year."

He added: "The timings of the games over the festive period are good for the supporters - they are even better for the Scotland selectors with the Six Nations just around the corner.

"Just a month before we play England they will be able to see who the guys are doing against their direct rivals, to see who is ready to step up."

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