Gregor Townsend lauds side’s ‘fantastic rugby’ on testing surface

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GLASGOW leapfrogged Leinster and moved to third in the RaboDirect PRO12 table with victory over their Scottish rivals last night, by displaying a high level of ambition according to head coach Gregor Townsend.

With new Scotland head coach Scott Johnston watching on, Glasgow’s pack laid the foundations for success in the first half but it was their backs that held the clinical edge with three first-half tries. “When you get three tries you are delighted,” said Townsend, “but the way we wanted to play was with pace. It was similar to how we started last week at Castres, and that’s how we want to play – with tempo, and defending strongly and using the defence to get us turnovers – but I thought some of the recognition of space and execution was excellent.

“Niko [Matawalu] kicking to DTH [van der Merwe] for the third try … clever of DTH to call that and the precision and finish was excellent. We had a couple of other opportunities and Greig Laidlaw saved a certain try. There was some fantastic rugby and as a coach you’re disappointed that you can’t keep it going for the whole 80 minutes, but it takes a lot out of you that work, and even though the ground staff have done a fantastic job on the pitch it takes a lot of out of the legs playing on that [heavy mud].

“It’s been a frustrating four games where we’ve lost by two or three points, and six to the European champions, so we know the effort has been there but we’ve lacked the precision, and what I was really pleased with tonight was the ambition.”

Skipper Al Kellock was voted man of the match, but was quick to warn his side that they are only halfway to winning the 1872 Cup for a fourth year on the trot. He said: “There are things to improve on but that’s great because you wouldn’t want to come away from a match like that with a short turnaround to the next one and think that you’ve cracked it.

“We’ve done the first job, got four points which was massively important in the league campaign, and I’m looking forward to my Christmas a lot more than I would have done had we not squeezed that out. But credit to Edinburgh. Greig Laidlaw is a great captain and he really got them railed up for that second half.”

Looking ahead to the return match, Townsend added: “We have ideas for Murrayfield and that will come into team selection, but what we’re building is a team that is strong in defence but can also put pace on the ball. Murrayfield’s the widest and best surface in the league and Edinburgh obviously like playing there and will look to attack against us, but we plan to do that as well.”