DISCIPLINE would normally be Gregor Townsend’s department, but the Glasgow Warriors are so desperate to turn their progress into prizes that the players appear to have made a self- policing pact to keep their endeavours on the field clean.
As Sean Lamont acknowledged, the concession of too many penalties due to “over- eager” exertions at the breakdown was one of the reasons Glasgow’s good form last season only took them as far as the RaboDirect Pro12 semi-finals, which was not the uncharted territory their improvement had promised.
Had they not scored a try with 10 seconds of normal time remaining against Ulster last Friday, Glasgow would probably have spent the week ruminating on another penalty count that was way too high. But they got away with it, for once, and came away with no regrets.
Now to repeat the trick against “streetwise” Leinster, who won three Heineken Cups in four years by simultaneously moving the ball at the speed of electricity and behaving like downright spoilsports at the breakdown.
“We know the test we’ve got – a big one,” Lamont said ahead of tomorrow’s date with the reigning league champions at Scotstoun. “They’re a quality side, they know how to grind out wins and they’ve got a lot of intelligent players who know how to milk penalties, know how to steal yards, make it an absolute nightmare at the breakdown – all that sort of stuff.
“So it’s like any game – if we can impose our playing style… and the big one for us is to minimise the penalties.
“Last year we were bad for giving away penalties, and the game against Ulster at the weekend we gave away 16 penalties, I think it was, compared to Ulster’s nine. And it felt like a damn sight more than that on the field.
“It’s either an easy three points or an easy 30 yards up the field, and you can’t be doing that. I think that’s the big thing that cost us both games against them last year, and it’s a massive factor. So we’ve got to be squeaky clean.”
Lamont could not have looked more relaxed as he approached reporters with his hands in his pockets to talk about tackling Leinster, who announced the short-term signing of Lote Tuqiri yesterday. He said things like “winning games makes rugby wonderful” and “this is a great place to be at the moment” that made it obvious Glasgow are basking in the warmth of two opening wins.
So how well has Townsend insulated his squad against the probability of tougher days ahead? Does Lamont truly believe this group is deep enough to win silverware this season?
“I think it’s got even deeper, because the difference between who starts and who’s on the bench is so fine at the moment,” said the 32-year-old utility back. “It’s great. We’ve got a huge squad and, if you’re not on form, somebody else will take your place and play well, which is a great place to be.
“It’s spoilt for choice and I wouldn’t like to be the coach who has to try to pick a team at the moment – it would be as stressful as not being picked. But we’re all feeling great after two wins. Hopefully, we can keep that rolling this weekend.”
Lamont also said his brother Rory is in good spirits as he undertakes an accelerated accountancy course with fellow summer retiree Graeme Morrison.
“He has accepted the fact he had to retire. I don’t think anyone ever wants to retire,” said the elder of the two Scotland international siblings. “But he’s in good form.”