With just a six-day turnaround there was no time for any soul-searching or naval gazing within the Glasgow Warriors camp after last Sunday’s defeat to Edinburgh. An honest appraisal of what happened, and a firm commitment to do certain key things better in the return match is as much as was realistically possible.
As back-rower Ryan Wilson pointed out, the Warriors have not become a bad team overnight. They do not need to reinvent the wheel – they just need to get it rolling again.
“I personally felt the game didn’t go our way because we didn’t play our game. The ball was slow, there were too many unforced errors and that was that,” he said.
“We need to stick to the game plan and we’ve got to be a bit smarter. We need some quicker ball and to nullify their set-piece. We need to look after the ball a bit better. I think there were 19 turnovers from us and 18 from them, so it was quite close in those terms, but set-piece wise was a big one. I think they had around 15 lineouts, and, as we know, Edinburgh like to drive those. Throughout the beginning of this season, our lineout defence has been pretty good, but we were poor on the weekend, so we’ll be looking to change that and make amends there.”
With this particular issue in mind, it is not a surprise that head coach Gregor Townsend has shaken up his pack, with Jonny Gray returning from injury alongside Australian-born American internationalist Greg Peterson to bolster the second-row, while Josh Strauss brings a formidable combination of power and know-how to the back row.
Gordon Reid replaces Ryan Grant at loose-head prop and 19-year-old Zander Fagerson gets a chance to prove himself on the tight-head ahead of Tongan internationalist Sila Puafisi.
Edinburgh deserve all the credit they have received this week for the way they slowed down Glasgow possession, with John Hardie proving that – regardless of what you think of his extremely speedy Scotland call-up – he is worth his weight in gold as an authentic open-side bullet.
Wilson makes no secret of the fact that the Warriors will be hell-bent on neutralising the New Zealander’s influence this evening.
“He played well at the breakdown. We’ll be looking to take him out of the game this week. You’ve just got to clear those bodies out. They like to slow the game down with players on the wrong side of the ruck, which they did quite well, but whether it’s picked up this week, or we have to pick it up ourselves and do something about it, will be another story,” he said.
“If you play against any of these sorts of sevens, you watch for them in the game and you make sure they’re not getting too close to the ball at the breakdown, so it’s having that extra sort of awareness of being in a bit quicker than him, getting underneath him. So we’ll be looking to do that.
“He’s a great person to have about: he is a good guy and a brilliant rugby player, so he’ll definitely have had a positive effect on the Edinburgh boys.”
An extra obstacle in the quest to turn around the 12-point deficit in order to recapture the 1872 Cup arrived on Thursday when the game was moved to Murrayfield after Scotstoun was deemed unplayable. It is far from ideal situation for the Warriors, but Wilson says that the team has every right to believe that his team can turn things round.
“We’re very confident. We didn’t win a championship for no reason last year. We’ve come from behind. This is half-time. It’s a game we can definitely go out and win by 12. We’re a confident team. We know we’ve got it in there, we’ve got the players, we just need to stick to the game-plan,” he said.