Callum Gibbins questions tactics as Glasgow Warriors rue defeat

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Glasgow co-captain Callum Gibbins admitted to regrets “in hindsight” about his team’s decisions to go for tries rather than penalty points during Sunday’s 13-3 home defeat by Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup opener.

After a bruising and, at times, fiercely competitive encounter, Glasgow were left without even the consolation of a losing bonus point and are now under pressure to get their Pool 3 campaign back on track when they face Cardiff away this Sunday.

Glasgow Warriors' Callum Gibbins takes on Michael Rhodes during Sunday's Champions Cup defeat by Saracens. Picture: Getty.

Glasgow Warriors' Callum Gibbins takes on Michael Rhodes during Sunday's Champions Cup defeat by Saracens. Picture: Getty.

The Warriors went for the corner on a number of occasions, including heading into the last ten minutes when they were still three points shy of losing bonus territory, on a day when young stand-off Adam Hastings’ boot wasn’t quite as reliable as he would have liked.

“I felt we had good pressure on them at lineout time and they gave away a couple of penalties, so the decision to go to the corner late in the first half, we didn’t come away with any points, but I thought we had good ascendancy there,” explained the Kiwi openside.

“Maybe in hindsight we’ll look at it and it could have been the wrong decision, but at the time I felt we had them under pressure.”

Like his coach Dave Rennie and the rest of the team, Gibbins was frustrated to come away empty-handed from an afternoon of intense physical exertion from both sides.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Gibbins. “We had plenty of opportunities to maybe put more pressure on them, but we didn’t look after the ball well enough and silly mistakes in the wrong areas of the field took the pressure off. They had a couple of opportunities and took one of them and scored pretty early on and that’s all it takes sometimes in these big games.”

French referee Mathieu Raynal was not a popular figure with the Scotstoun crowd but Gibbins conceded that the Warriors players must take some responsibility for not getting the decisions.

“We’ve got to be better as players to recognise how the referee’s reffing a game,” said the former Hurricanes man. “So we’ve got to be able to go to those rucks quicker and nullify those attacking players going into those rucks. I think he did a good job and we just need to be better as players to adapt to him, so I think it’s more on ourselves.”

Gibbins accepts that Glasgow are pretty much in must-win territory now heading to the Arms Park. “You want to win every game, so it’s no different in Cardiff this week, but we’ll have to take a look at how we went tonight and then move on to Cardiff,” he said.

The Blues are on a high from their stunning comeback 30-21 win at Lyon and will go into this weekend’s clash full of confidence.

Cardiff defence coach Richard Hodges said: “To get any win away from home in Europe is special and especially in this competition. Last year we probably faced a few mix-and-match sides and got some excellent wins but this is probably the best one.

“In the first few games we were a bit disappointed, and it mirrors the start we had last year defensively so maybe we need to have a look at that big picture, but over the last four games we’ve conceded under 20 points a game and if we keep doing that and align it with our attacking identity we will go well.

“There will be bumps in the road and we have to understand that but let’s just focus on Glasgow next Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Wales head coach Warren Gatland looks set to name an autumn Test squad of few surprises today.

Cardiff Blues’ 20-year-old wing Owen Lane could be the only uncapped player in a probable 36-man group for games against Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa.