Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend admitted indiscipline cost his side from securing a famous victory at Toulouse.
The four-times European champions from the south of France scored 16 of their 19 points in the ten-minute periods when Finn Russell and Leone Nakawara were sent to the sin-bin by Irish referee John Lacey.
Townsend’s men will now have to win the reverse fixture at Scotstoun to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-finals for the first time after the 19-11 defeat.
Glasgow conceded a whopping 14 penalties in the course of this match and Toulouse are quite tough enough without playing with one hand tied behind your back.
“That was one part,” admitted Towsend afterwards when quizzed about Russell’s disastrous trip to the bin but he was keen to look elsewhere to explain Glasgow’s setback. “At the beginning of the game in the first 20 or 30 minutes, when we controlled a lot of territory and possession in their 22 three or four separate times, not to come away with more than just three points, that was something that we need to improve.
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“The try they scored, the fact that we were down to 14 men was irrelevant, it was just a soft try to concede. We didn’t get our set-ups right there. We defended so well and kept them out obviously for the rest of the game.
“I want to start on a positive. I was really proud of the effort and the ability out there today, That was a top, top side we came up against and we played with huge courage, but also found a way to put ourselves in a position when we almost got a losing bonus point after 14 penalties and two yellow cards!
“It was a missed opportunity to come away with something. Obviously when you lose by eight it is really disappointing, but we learned a lot from that game for the rest of the season and for next week. How we have to be better at supporting the ball carrier, how we have to keep our discipline under pressure, so obviously two yellow cards is something that needs to improve.”
If Townsend wanted to deflect any criticism of those who had enjoyed a ten-minute rest, that was undoubtedly true of Glasgow’s Henry Pyrgos, who defended Russell in particular and painted a positive picture ahead of round two on Saturday.
“It (the yellow card) obviously doesn’t help,” said the scrum-half. “It’s tough when your ten goes down, and they capitalised, they came out and they turned over a ball and managed to get a try but that wasn’t down to being a man down, it was just a shame we turned it over there.It’s obviously tough when you are down a man and they have big ball carriers. It definitely didn’t help us but I don’t know if it would have changed the result.”
That much is probably true, Glasgow were second best in several departments and Toulouse left some points on the table when Imanol Harinordoquy’s hands let him down at crucial moments in the first half.
The early loss of specialist seven Chris Fusaro, the little flanker hobbling home on crutches with his lower leg immobilised in a moon boot, didn’t help matters, giving free rein to Yannick Nyanga and Thierry Dusautoir, who replaced him late in the game, two “world-class players” as Townsend dubbed them.
“Our ball carrying needed to be better,” said the Glasgow boss. “Our support had to be there quicker. We are a very good team at the ruck, but now we know we have to be even better next week.”
A huge amount is now riding on Saturday’s replay, which Glasgow cannot afford to lose if they are to make their bow in the knock-out stages of European competition.
“We realise the situation we are in,” said Townsend. “We are three points behind and we play Toulouse in six days’ time at home and we have to play better and make sure that our discipline is better next week.”
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