SEAN Lamont has pinpointed a strong start as the key to Glasgow’s hopes of avenging their November defeat at the hands of Scarlets and finally “parking” the bitter memory of last week’s tame yielding of the 1872 Cup.
The Welsh side score more points than any other team in the Guinness Pro12 in the opening 20 minutes and, with Scotstoun expected to be lashed by high winds and torrential rain during this evening’s 7.35pm kick-off, the wing had no hesitation in highlighting the need to take charge of the scoreboard early as potentially pivotal.
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The 33-year-old is also confident that, if Glasgow can contain the early red menace, then their own fitness levels will help them come strong later on to extend their formidable 14-game unbeaten league run on home soil.
Either way Lamont, who played 52 games for Scarlets in a three year spell between 2009 and 2012, before returning for his second stint with Glasgow, admits this evening’s encounter could well be a war of attrition.
“If we can contain them over that first quarter then come the end of the game I think we can dig in and get the win. With the type of winds expected and the rain too it could be an attritional game,” said Lamont.
The Scotland international continued: “But regardless of the weather, if we can get a 3-0 win it will do, we just need to win. But we’ve got good fitness levels and that shows in a lot of our games at 60 minutes plus. If the weather is as bad as we expect it to be, will be a game for digging deep.
“Losing to Edinburgh and letting the 1872 Cup go did hurt the boys and we have needed to park that side of it and move on and the best way to do that is to win this weekend against Scarlets. That would also allow us to go into Europe on the back of a win and that is also very important for us. Also, if we want to target the top-four slot and a final place in the Pro12 we need to get back on track.”
While tonight’s visitors boast an unbeaten home record that stretches back over a year, Wayne Pivac’s side have also failed to enjoy any success away from the Valleys, having drawn one and lost the other five of their trips this season.
Yet having bested a below par Glasgow at the Parc y Scarlets in November by 19-9, Lamont has no doubt about how dangerous his former side will be and was keen to highlight the areas of concern. He added: “Scarlets are really good at the breakdown where they are excellent at slowing the ball down, they also love to counter attack and really move the ball about.
“We know that we are going to have to up the physicality because it wasn’t there and certainly not in the right places at Edinburgh and Scarlets will pose similar problems at the breakdown where they really mess your ball up.
“I missed the first game down there when I was with Scotland but I watched it and we didn’t play well and they did. But it is our home game and the onus is all on us.”
Tonight’s fixture will be Glasgow’s last league game before they run out at the Stadio XXV Aprile on Sunday, 15 February against Zebre, as such Lamont admits securing victory has extra significance for his side. He said: “With tonight’s game being our last Pro12 game for five weeks it does take on extra significance.
“We know that we weren’t on point last week at Murrayfield and Edinburgh played very well. Whether it was a bit of complacency from us I don’t know, it just wasn’t us but you can’t be perfect all the time.
“That said, Edinburgh are a much improved team over the last few months and they are a very physical one.
“If we can beat the Scarlets, we can really leave that behind us and enter the league break on the front foot, while also giving ourselves a positive platform into Europe.”
Head coach Gregor Townsend has made nine changes, two of which are positional, with perhaps the most startling of these the return at tighthead of Mike Cusack after a first team absence through illness, injury and surgery, that last saw the front-row feature against the Dragons at Rodney Parade last February.
Given the otherwise grim nature of Townsend’s weekly injury report, it was no wonder the head coach was happy.
He said: “I’m delighted that Mike’s available and has fought his way back. He has had a tough time, but he has not shown it. He has come into training and worked hard. Whether illness, injury or operations, he has stuck to his task. When you have been out for so long it does take time to get back to match fitness, and he might be puffing a bit, but it’s important that he keeps working hard and that those around him support him.”
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