Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Glasgow Warriors eye Champions Cup run

Gregor Townsend believes his Glasgow side can only afford one more slip-up if they are to fulfil their long-held ambitions of making a mark on the European Champions Cup.

The Guinness Pro12 champions have never made the quarter-finals of the continent's top competition.

But Townsend believes last week's 43-6 win at home over an injury-hit Scarlets side has now put his side firmly in contention to escape Pool 3.

The crushing six-try triumph over the Llanelli side - inspired by giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro's hat-trick - was an impressive response following d efeat to Northampton Saints in their tournament opener.

Townsend, though, warned they must look to finish off the group by winning at least three of their four remaining games.

The Scotstoun side face the return clash with the Welshmen at the Parc y Scarlets on Saturday before taking on French side Racing 92 either side of their January 15 trip to Northampton.

Townsend said: "Last year we came very close to qualifying. It went down to the wire against Bath and we were four inches away from scoring a try that would have put us in the quarter-finals.

"That was the closest we have ever come to qualifying but this year we are in the mix. That win last week put us back in there with an opportunity to progress.

"But we now know we have to win three of the four games left."

Scarlets top the Pro12 this term but were put to the sword during a devastating second-half Warriors blitz.

But Townsend believes his side can be even sharper this weekend, saying: "Everything didn't go right. You never have the perfect game and there are a lot of things we want to improve on.

"I was pleased, though, with the scrum performance and our defence too. Some of our finishing in the second half was excellent but we had a lot of possession in the first half that we didn't convert into tries, so there are plenty to work on."

Glasgow welcome back hooker Fraser Brown, who has not played since returning from World Cup duty with a foot injury.

With Stuart Hogg rested as Townsend keeps one eye on his players' work load as the RBS 6 Nations begins to loom near, Tommy Seymour takes his slot at full-back, while veteran wing Sean Lamont comes in to face his former club.

In the pack, Alex Allan starts for the first time since October, with Rob Harley replacing Adam Ashe in the back-row.

Scarlets - bottom of the group after three straight defeats - will welcome back a host of big names for Glasgow's visit, including former Warrior DTH van der Merwe, after a spate of injuries put them under the cosh during their trip north.

Townsend added: " They've lost all three games so far but I think they will be fired up. They have a few key players back. We know some well like DTH, who is a fantastic player, and they have some Welsh internationals coming back too.

"They have an excellent home record and are top of the Pro12 so they are a quality side and we expect them to play really well against us."


From Belfast Telegraph