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Losing to Connacht was good for us - Gregor Townsend

Published 20/05/2016

Glasgow warriors head coach Gregor Townsend hopes his side can retain the Guinness Pro12 title they won last year
Glasgow warriors head coach Gregor Townsend hopes his side can retain the Guinness Pro12 title they won last year

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend admits losing to Connacht was the best thing that could have happened to Warriors' Guinness Pro12 defence.

The Scots were denied a home semi-final when they lost 14-7 to the Irish province in Galway two weeks ago.

The reigning champions return to the Sportsground on Saturday but will have to become the first ever side to reach the competition's climax having won away from home in the last four.

However, despite being forced to do it the hard way, Townsend claims coming out of the teams' last meeting second best has proved to be a blessing in disguise.

He said: "It was the best thing that could have happened to us.

"You learn more from defeat. You do get confidence from victories but you find out how to be better after a loss. Things get put through the magnifying glass.

"We've had two weeks' preparation to put things right. It would have been better for the club and our supporters to have been at home but having that defeat has really sharpened our focus ahead of this weekend.

"Our preparation has been better than normal because the team we just lost to and who we want to put a few things right against is who we play in the next game.

"We will learn from where we could be better and try to get our strengths out.

"But whether you are home or away, these games are always going to be tough. We lost away to Leinster three years ago by just two points.

"We won two years ago at home to Munster by a point and then against Ulster last year by a point. So they are always tight. Whoever takes their opportunities will win."

A sell-out 9,500 crowd is expected to pack into Connacht's home arena but while the vast majority will be supporting Pat Lam's side, Townsend hopes his team's vast reserves of experience will give Glasgow the upper hand.

The Scotstoun side have reached the play-offs for the last five years straight but this is Connacht's debut appearance in the semis.

Townsend said: " That experience might help us. It might not given Connacht beat us last time and are at home, so they will be pretty confident.

"It's a new experience for them and I'm sure it will be a fantastic atmosphere at the Sportsground. It's great for Connacht and their supporters that they are getting to host a semi-final.

"But we want to put them under pressure and see if they will make mistakes. Whether that is because they have not played in a semi-final before or because they are playing a very good Glasgow team doesn't matter so long as we get the right outcome and Glasgow win the game."

The Warriors coach has made five changes to the side beaten a fortnight ago.

Mark Bennett joins Peter Horne - who makes his 100th Glasgow appearance - in the centres, while wing Sean Lamont. scrum-half Henry Pyrgos, prop Zander Fagerson and flanker Simone Favaro also start.

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