Kellock refuses to blame injuries for Glasgow’s Heineken Cup defeat

GLASGOW captain Alastair Kellock refused to use injuries as an excuse for his side’s 24-15 defeat in Northampton and remains confident the Warriors can beat Ulster at Scotstoun on Friday night to re-ignite their European campaign.

He led his side into the Heineken Cup opener with a core of injured internationalists and despite Stuart Hogg, Ruaridh Jackson and Sean Lamont also dropping out during the game, the Warriors had the 12,000-strong Franklin’s Gardens supporters holding their breath until the final ten minutes. But, the inspirational lock both praised and pointed the finger of blame at those on the field for the way a 15-0 lead was built up and then allowed to slip from their grasp.

“Last year, we went over to Leinster [lost 38-13], so we know what it’s like not to perform against a big team and the feeling that you get from that,” he said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We talked about that Leinster game and, yes, there has to be a bit of fear factor, but we also talked a lot about how this was about us, and we had to focus on what we did, and for 60/70/80 percent of that game I thought we were fantastic. But we let ourselves down with a few defensive blips and that [to cite injuries], to me, would reek of an excuse.

“We had the ability to win that with the guys that were on that park. I think it’s enormous credit to the squad that we have built up that you looked before the game and saw a 23 that could win this game, although we’ve got seven or eight guys that would push to start not there.”

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder said that the game “could have gone either way”, and heaped praise on Glasgow’s forward and back play, and added that he expects them to help the Saints by taking points from Ulster and Castres.

His counterpart in the Warriors camp, Gregor Townsend, was obviously less upbeat.

“To come away with nothing, especially the win, is very disappointing,” he said. “We played very well for 33 minutes and then let them back in the game and then weren’t disciplined enough at the beginning of that second half.

“But, despite that and the fact that we didn’t play well in the second half, we still kept in the game and so it was disappointing not to pick up a bonus point, and for them to take a bonus point [for four tries] in the context of the pool is also disappointing.”

Townsend was philosophical about the way his decision to go with six forwards and two backs on the bench was exposed by the injuries to three backs, and Kellock was bullish when asked if he still believed that Glasgow could reach the quarter-finals.

“Absolutely, we’ve got belief. We’ve got a tough pool, but we get the win next week and we’re right back in it. When you put so much into a game you need to be able to bounce back quickly.

“We gave everything, physically and mentally. We put our heart and soul into that game, and if we fix a couple of mistakes and do exactly the same on Friday as far as the commitment is concerned, we’ll get the win at home.”