Rugby: Chris Cusiter delighted by New Year’s Day victory but believes improving Glasgow side have yet to fully realise their potential

CHRIS Cusiter admitted that he did not have his best game for Glasgow on Sunday night, despite picking up the ‘man of the match’ award, but that has only further underlined for the scrum-half the potential that exists in the team to be title challengers if they can reignite their attack.

Glasgow emerged from the traditional winter derbies with six points from a possible ten from the 23-23 draw at Murrayfield and 17-12 win on New Year’s Day, which took them ahead of Munster and into third in the RaboDirect PRO12.

“To get six points out of this festive season is just great and to win the 1872 Cup is brilliant,” he said. “It was an unbelievable crowd. When we came out for the warm-up lap it was amazing. I really enjoy the atmosphere at Firhill and we got the win for the supporters.

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“I am satisfied with the four points on Sunday but not the performance. I don’t know what happened as we really struggled for long periods of the game, but we found a way to get a result which was really good so I can’t complain about that. But we need to play better.

“Edinburgh made it hard for us; at the breakdown they were very good and we made too many mistakes. Myself and Dunc [Weir] out of our half weren’t great and we will have to work on that and try and improve. We are not playing as well as we can. I didn’t play well at all so I don’t know how I got man of the match. I tried hard, put a couple of kicks out, but I’ll move on.”

Cusiter was also blown away by the size of the crowds in what was his first taste of the 1872 Cup series, injury preventing him from being involved last season. He enjoyed 14,000 capacity crowds at Perpignan’s intimidating Stade Aime Giral in the south of France, but he insisted that the new record attendance of 8,852, beating the 2009-10 record by just 22 people, provided as exciting an atmosphere to play in.

“If we could get that week in week out what a place it would be to play. It is so difficult for teams to come here and they are really passionate on the west coast,” he added. “To get 8,800 is brilliant and I am really chuffed with that. I am just chuffed in general with the way the club is going and the signings we are making.”

However, typically honest, the 29-year-old admitted that he was not thinking about his prospects of returning to the Scotland squad, which meets up after the Heineken Cup matches, until he recovered more consistency of performance. He could have won ‘man of the match’ in the Murrayfield encounter, but a league match away to Scarlets on Saturday and then Heineken Cup matches at home to Leinster and away to Bath will provide the platform he relishes. Cusiter said: “We have two massive games in the Heineken coming soon and we have to raise our game from where we are to get results there.

“We are sitting pretty well in the league and have Scarlets next week, and to lose one or two games you fall down the table.

“Obviously, we’re targeting the play-offs and some kind of quarter-final in European competition [even if Glasgow fail to reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals they could drop into the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup].

“We have to keep it going. The spirit is brilliant but a lot of us feel we are not playing as well as we can with the talent and set-up that we have got.

“We are scrapping draws away from home which is no bad thing but in Europe we will have to raise it. That is a step up. We are capable, we have the squad, but we have to find a way of performing to a high level.

“We have a good defence but the last time we played Leinster they carved us up. They are a brilliant team and they beat Bath as well. If you defend like we do we can stay in the game but in attack we are not showing as much as we can.

“We have guys like [Stuart] Hogg, [David] Lemi and Rory Lamont who are brilliant runners but we are not creating enough space for them. The forwards are grafting and it’s good to see big Richie [Gray] running with ball in hand as he is so hard to stop. But we need to do more of that and create more opportunities. We have to step up our game.”