Glasgow Warriors aim to outrun the Bulls rather than take them on up front

Nigel Carolan has promised that Glasgow Warriors will try to outrun the Bulls as they look to return to winning ways at Scotstoun on Saturday night.

Glasgow Warriors get to grips with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last season. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Glasgow Warriors get to grips with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last season. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Carolan, the Warriors attack coach, knows the South African side will rely on their traditional attributes of power and physicality and believes it would be foolish to attempt to take them on at their own game.

Instead, he will try to move the Bulls’ big men around the park by running them ragged on the fast, artificial surface.

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The Bulls were beaten finalists in last season’s United Rugby Championship final and arrive in Scotland on the back of three wins in a row in their homeland.

Glasgow Warriors attack coach Nigel Carolan, right, with fellow coach Pete Horne. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
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Asked if this was Glasgow’s toughest test so far in this campaign, Carolan said: “Definitely physically. Bulls by name, Bulls by nature - they are a physical team.

“They are a fairly direct team in terms of how they attack. There’s not going to be any surprise.

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“One of our themes this week is we outrun the Bulls. It’s not going to be any surprise to them when they come to Scotstoun - we’re not going to take them on up front. They’re going to expect us to move them around and hopefully we won’t disappoint.”

Glasgow are looking forward to playing at home again after another tough away defeat, their eighth in a row on the road in the URC stretching back to last season. The 32-17 reverse against Ospreys in Wales stunted the momentum created by the highly impressive home win over Cardiff the week before and Carolan felt the team were wasteful in Swansea.

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“We created a lot of opportunities but there was a little bit of sloppiness, a lack of accuracy,” he said. “The opportunities were there, we just didn’t convert. There was about a 12 per cent conversion rate of opportunities which is an all-time low.

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“Again, it’s small things - getting held up over the line twice, the maul didn’t function as well as we would have liked and that’s usually a weapon of ours when we get into the scoring zones. But these are all things we feel are fixable. I think the most important thing is getting access to scoring opportunities and, away from home, you’ve got to take them.”

Carolan also believes the away issue is fixable.

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“It’s just mind-set, nothing more, nothing less,” said the former Connacht coach who noted improvements in terms of fitness compared to last season.

“At the end of last season, when there was 20 minutes to go and we were away from home, I think we were a team that maybe looked out of ideas. We didn’t have the physical capacity to impose ourselves in the final 20 minutes whereas that’s there now. Look at Benetton and look at Ospreys, the last 20 minutes were probably our strongest part.

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“Maybe even the last five minutes against Ospreys. So we’re finishing games in a good position physically. I thought we started the game reasonably well, it was just a lot of errors.”

Glasgow have injury concerns over Jack Dempsey (ribs) and Kyle Steyn (hamstring), neither of whom have trained this week. On the credit side, Ross Thompson, Ollie Smith and Josh McKay are all likely to be in contention to face the Bulls.

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