GLASGOW captain Alastair Kellock hailed the control of his backs in securing a dogged Heineken Cup win in the Scotstoun rain, and insisted that it was up to them to render the late bonus point claimed by Exeter irrelevant in the race for quarter-final places.
The Warriors’ pool was turned on its head at the weekend as the opening round losers emerged victorious, Cardiff bouncing back from a heavy loss to Exeter by defeating Toulon in Wales and Glasgow overcoming the Chiefs 20-16 a week after going down 51-28 in Toulon. That leaves Toulon top on points difference from Exeter, but both on six points, with Cardiff and Glasgow on five but the Welshmen holding the better points differential.
“It’s a great win,” said Kellock. “It was disappointing to slip up at the end and allow them that bonus point, but those were tough conditions and really difficult to play in.
“I said to the backs that the way they controlled that game in the second half was outstanding. It was so much easier up front when you’re putting pressure on them in the right areas. Our scrum and line-out operated very well, but I’d rather be having scrums and lineouts in their 22 than in ours, and that second half was really good.
“Now, it’s about us and we go into the back-to-back games [with Cardiff] in December in a good position. The number one aspect of that game was to get the win. The fact that they got the bonus point was a slight frustration, but it’s no more because it’s still all about what we do.
“Everybody is still competing for the No. 1 slot and you have to credit Cardiff because we found out how good Toulon were and Cardiff have produced a great turnaround with that result.”
His head coach Gregor Townsend praised the character in his side, stating: “That was a very important win for us. I was happy at half-time despite being behind, because, with the scrum and lineout going well, I felt with the pressure building, something would give, and it did. We got the balance right in the second half with forwards taking it up and backs sweeping round when the numbers were short, so well played to the players.
“They are a tough team and when you’re trailing at half-time in those conditions it needs character and skill to get through and the players showed that. We have got five points out of two games which is tremendous, and we have back to back games now that are very important.”
Intriguingly, Exeter coach Rob Baxter was far from deflated, insisting that returning south with a single point after last week’s humbling of Cardiff claimed five, was pleasing.
“There’s a reality to things,” he said. “Glasgow don’t lose many games here. They’re sitting at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12. We weren’t able to play as much rugby as we’d have liked, and neither could Glasgow, and we had to be pragmatic with the conditions.
“I think Glasgow just controlled the ball a bit better at crucial times. We had some errors under some high kicks and tight games like that can be decided by on one or two moments. But I’m really pleased with how we fought back in the end when the momentum had got a bit away from us, with what was happening at the scrum, so to come here and get a losing bonus point keeps us level top of the group with everything to play for.”
He added: “I’ve just said to our guys: ‘Look at the bigger picture. We’re in a group with the Heineken Cup champions, we’ve come away from home and played the leaders of the RaboDirect and we’re hanging in there at the top’, so we have to understand that this was a very important point for us.
“We know that we’ve got to beat Toulon in one of the two games and we’ve got to deny other people points, so the goal hasn’t changed. Toulon will come to us and it’s not an easy place to play – Clermont and Leinster have found that. We’ll go after the game full on and give it everything we’ve got, just like we did against Cardiff and like we’ve done today.”
THE SCOTSMAN RUGBY SHOW IN ASSOCIATION WITH GINGER GROUSE