GREGOR Townsend remains positive as his wounded Glasgow Warriors side prepare for a double header of Heineken Cup games with French Super 14 side Castres over the next fortnight.
A shocked Townsend found it difficult to explain his side’s capitulation in Saturday’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash with Munster when a previously mean defence was stripped bare with the concession of four tries for the first time this season and more points than in any single game.
Townsend admitted: “It was our worst performance by far; one on one missed tackles counted but they (players) didn’t show the same aggression.
“We came to Limerick to try to match them physically but there were too many passive tackles and line breaks cost us tries.
“To be fair to the players, they know what has made them successful this season but they now know they have to come to every game for 80 minutes.”
If words could be translated into action, Townsend’s men will respond vigorously. “This (defeat) should not make a difference confidence-wise but it will make a difference in determination,” he added.
“I’d like to think the guys can show our home supporters what we’re capable of. We need to win all four of our remaining Heineken Cup games and we now have Castres home or away; we have to win this or we are out of the tounrnament.”
Although the scoreline suggests Glasgow were slaughtered, that wasn’t quite the case. Munster took virtually all their scoring opportunities in a pretty one-sided first half, but Glasgow did up the challenge in the second half and Munster struggled to finish the five-point deal until awarded a late penalty try.
Now Munster have a major boost as they head into a hugely competitive fortnight of European rugby against crack English side Saracens and, like Glasgow, there really is little room for failure given they lost out on opening day away to Racing Metro while Saracens have two wins from two. Munster would appear to have found form just at the right time though, and certainly on Saturday night all of Limerick was singing the praises of recent signing CJ Stander, the former South African Under-20 captain who is ready to serve a three-year apprenticeship in Munster to allow him to qualify for Ireland.
Last week against Scarlets in Cork he was denied a try by a couple of millimetres; on Saturday, he scored one from close range and another after a magnificent break from inside his 22 that all but killed off the Glasgow challenge.
Glasgow grabbed an early lead through out half Duncan Weir, but Munster powered into that unassailable lead with Stander’s two tries and another by the brilliant flanker Tommy O’Donnell, while Ronan O’Gara predictably kicked all three conversions and a penalty. Yes, Glasgow were dogged and unrelenting for the most part in that second half, but a succession of scrums near their line proved just too much for them and Welsh referee Ian Davies, who hardly endeared himself to either of the opposition front rows, saw something to suggest he should award a penalty try that O’Gara converted.
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Stander 2, O’Donnell, Penalty. Cons: O’Gara 4. Pens: O’Gara. Glasgow: Pens: Weir.
Munster: Jones, Howlett, Earls, Downey, Zebo, O’Gara, Williams, Kilcoyne, Sherry, Botha, D. O’Callaghan, D. Ryan, Stander, O’Donnell, Coughlan. Replacements: Keatley for Jones (59), Laulala for Zebo (65), Stringer for Williams (61), du Preez for Kilcoyne (65), Varley for Sherry (52), Archer for Botha (67), Butler for O’Donnell (50), Holland for Coughlan (75).
Glasgow: Murchie, S. Lamont, Hogg, Horne, van der Merwe, Weir, Pyrgos, Grant, Hall, Cusack, Swinson, Kellock, Harley, Barclay, Wilson. Replacements: Reid for van der Merwe (61), Wight for Weir (50), Matawalu for Pyrgos (50), McGuigan for Grant (61), MacArthur for Hall (55), Eddie for Swinson (65), Strauss for Wilson (50).