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Townsend ready for Gunners salvo

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend expects rivals Edinburgh to adopt the same aggressive master plan that nearly gave them a shock 1872 Cup first-leg win.

The Warriors were put under the cosh as they had to sustain a first-half battering from the Gunners pack before makeshift centre Stuart Hogg was able to land the match-winning try after the interval.

The 20-16 victory at Murrayfield on Boxing Day gives the Scotstoun side a four-point lead ahead of the decisive return fixture at the other end of the M8 on New Year's Day.

And Townsend is planning on receiving more of the same from Alan Solomons' capital outfit.

He said: "I've seen a few comments in the paper from the Edinburgh camp. They felt they should have won that first game and they played very well.

"The weather should be wet and we are expecting a similar game plan from their side of things. They will look to take us on up front, either through driven line-outs or by kicking off nine and trying to put us under pressure that way. S o we will need to find a way to counteract that."

Hogg was pushed forward from full-back to land the knock-out blow last week but will revert back to number 15 for the second leg with Edinburgh, which also doubles as a RaboDirect Pro12 fixture.

Townsend was forced into the change by the loss of wing Tommy Seymour with both head and knee injuries, meaning Sean Maitland moves from full-back to the right flank, while Sean Lamont returns on the opposite side having been out of action since November with an ankle injury.

Byron McGuigan and Alex Dunbar form a new centre partnership, while Ruaridh Jackson and Henry Pyrgos come into the side at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.

In the forwards Ryan Grant continues at loose-head, with Dougie Hall coming in for Pat MacArthur at hooker and Ed Kalman replacing Jon Welsh at tight-head.

In the back-row Rob Harley continues on the blind-side, Chris Fusaro comes in at open-side and captains the side, while Josh Strauss replaces Ryan Wilson at number 8.

But Townsend insists the eight personnel changes to his line-up will not leave Glasgow - who sit fourth in the Pro12, 11 points ahead of the seventh-placed Gunners - detrimentally weakened.

He said: "We have got a strong squad. These games are not only important to our standing in the league and our supporters, but to our players as well and I want to give them the opportunity to play in them.

"So even though we have made a few changes, we still have a strong side.

"The four points that are on offer from this game are the main motivation for us. There are four sides around us in the table and they have had some good results of late and are stretching away from us, so it's important we keep doing well in the league ourselves."


From Belfast Telegraph