Matt Taylor hopes for replay of Munster’s agony

Matt Taylor: Quiet confidence. Picture: SNS/SRU
Matt Taylor: Quiet confidence. Picture: SNS/SRU
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GLASGOW defence coach Matt Taylor has made it clear that he believes home advantage will be crucial when his side host Guinness Pro12 leaders Munster at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Both sides will tread the hallowed Scotstoun turf on the back of frustrating consecutive defeats at the hands of French Top 14 sides with the men from Limerick bested by Clermont Auvergne and Glasgow going down to Toulouse.

In both cases, the level of frustration and disappointment in either camp was not helped by the knowledge that if chances and pressure had been converted then the sweet taste of success would have been shared, at least, with their exalted Gallic opponents.

Yet, while Glasgow will take confidence from a vaunted Pro12 home record of 12 consecutive victories that dates all the way back to a reverse at the hands of the Dragons in November 2013, Munster will travel to a venue where they suffered heartbreak back in May when Gregor Townsend’s men pipped them 16-15 in an epic play-off semi-final.

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As such, Taylor has no doubt from which standpoint he would rather be contemplating a meeting with the Munster-men: “If I was coming off the back of two tough games in Europe, I would definitely be happier running out for a home game, as we are,” said Taylor.

The Warriors defence coach continued: “The bottom line is that the league is our bread and butter and we know that there are certain things we have to improve against Munster and we will be looking to make that happen. This is a top-of-the-table clash, Munster are top and we are second and if we can get the win then we can maybe go top and that is huge motivation.” Taylor was in no doubt about the benefit Glasgow have derived from the inside information supplied by James Downey, the former Munster centre, who moved to Glasgow in the summer, during their preparation for the visit of Anthony Foley’s side.

“Obviously we have looked at the semi-final video and James (Downey) has been a big help in providing us with insight as to how Munster were thinking about us and what they were targeting. The funny thing is that in a lot of the tape it was James that would be taking the ball up for Munster and we had a bit of a laugh about that.” revealed Taylor.

He continued: “James has been great since he has come here to Glasgow. He has a huge knowledge of the game and has played at the top clubs in Europe with spells at Leinster, Northampton and Munster and now he is with us at Scotstoun and we are making the most of his experience.

“Plus James was at Munster for a long time and he has brought a lot to the table for us in that regard. Okay, it doesn’t guarantee you a win, but any advantage you can get at this level you must take and make the most of.”

Under Foley’s tutelage, the men from Limerick have attempted to play a more expansive attacking game and in his role as Glasgow defence coach, this is a development that has clearly come under Taylor’s microscope. He explained: “Munster are a top team with a fantastic history and you saw at the weekend just how hard they pushed Clermont on their patch, never gave up and got the bonus point they needed in defeat as a result of that.

“Obviously, as the defence coach at Glasgow, I spend a lot of time looking at the opposition attack and Munster have varied it a bit this season and they are an excellent side and that is why they are sitting top of the Guinness Pro12.

“They have a lot of really good ball carriers who come round the corner at full throttle and have really got back to the old Munster way of playing but at the same time in Europe they have changed it up a bit and added more width and they are very well balanced in attack.

“So we have to be ready for whatever Munster is coming our way. But, like I said, this is a top-of-the-table clash and everyone at Glasgow is up for it.”

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