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Townsend cautious of Exeter


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Latest rugby union news

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend has warned his players that Heineken Cup opponents Exeter played some of the best rugby he has seen from an English side during their opening match of the tournament.

While Glasgow struggled to get to grips with Toulon in their opening game until they were 34-0 down, Exeter swept to a 44-29 victory over Cardiff.

Glasgow found their feet in their second half in France, running in four tries to claim a bonus point in a 51-28 defeat.

And Townsend knows they will need to produce that form for 80 minutes when the Chiefs, who sit sixth in the Aviva Premiership, visit Scotstoun on Sunday.

" Last week they were outstanding, some of the best rugby I have seen from an English side," the former Scotland international said.

"They were 41-3 up after 50 minutes. They are a very well-drilled side, they know what their game is about. They run the ball more than any other team in England."

Townsend likened Exeter to last season's RaboDirect PRO12 champions.

"They remind me a lot of Leinster last year," he said. "They are very good on the breakdown, they will keep ball and put you under pressure.

"So we have to be switched on defensively, we know we might not get that much ball so we have to make our defence a weapon for us so that we can get the ball back and run with it."

DTH Van der Merwe is handed a start after coming off the bench to notch two tries in Toulon, while Argentinian centre Gabriel Ascarate returns from a shin injury to make his home debut alongside Byron McGuigan after Alex Dunbar was sidelined by a shoulder problem.

Niko Matawalu starts at scrum-half after moving to the number nine position from the wing at half-time in France.

In the pack, Pat MacArthur, Ed Kalman, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley and Tyrone Holmes all come in.

Townsend added: "We learned a great deal last weekend in Toulon, about ourselves and the level of rugby we face in this competition.

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"We had gone into the match full of confidence but we were way off our best in the first half.

"The display from our players after half-time was excellent but there is still an underlying feeling in our group of frustration and determination to put things right.

"It is very important that we rise up and deliver an 80-minute performance on Sunday."

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