Finn Russell didn’t feel he had point to prove for Glasgow

Glasgow stand-off Finn Russell kicks a penalty against Edinburgh. Picture: SNS/SRU
Glasgow stand-off Finn Russell kicks a penalty against Edinburgh. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Scotland stand-off Finn Russell insists he didn’t feel he had a point to prove after returning to the starting line-up and helping Glasgow to an 1872 Cup series-levelling victory over Edinburgh at Scotstoun.

Russell is leaving the Warriors for Racing 92 at the end of the season and coach Dave Rennie has taken the opportunity in the past couple of weeks to give Peter Horne auditions at No 10 in big games.

Following the 18-17 defeat by Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield before Christmas, Russell was promoted from the bench and kicked four penalties as Glasgow got back to winning ways after three straight losses.

“Peter had a game against Montpellier and he played really well so he got a game last week [against Edinburgh] and I got a game this week,” said Russell.

“It is the sport we are in. It doesn’t matter what position you play in. A guy will come in and if he does well he deserves the spot the following week.

“I was lucky to get the game this week.

“I didn’t feel I had a point to prove. You just go out there and try your best every week. You don’t go out there thinking you have a point to prove. You don’t want to overplay it and try and force things.

“You go out there and try and play your best. I would not say it is having a point to prove. It is just trying to play your best.”

Russell would always prefer to start, naturally, but viewed his spell as a replacement in a typically glass half-full way.

“I have been on it a few times. Sitting on the bench you get time to analyse the game and you can come on and try and make an impact,” said the stand-off.

“You get all the messages from the coaches and you can see how things are unfolding. You can almost analyse the game, how we are defending, so when I come on I have a good idea of what I am going to try and do, build up a game plan in your head as you are watching it. It is different.”

In a fairly turgid encounter, Russell didn’t get much chance to showcase the flair side of his game but was content to knock over the penalties which steadily took the game away from a spirited Edinburgh side before Lee Jones’ late try in the corner added a flattering gloss to the scoreline.

Glasgow reined in their expansive instincts – although Edinburgh should take some credit for not allowing them much scope – to get the job done and avenge that painful 18-17 loss to their 14-man 
inter-city rivals the previous Saturday.

“It was a decision made on the field,” said Russell of the preference for points over field position as Glasgow got themselves on the better side of referee Mike Adamson’s whistle. “We had a tight game last week and we wanted to get ahead of them. Keep the scoreboard ticking over. It was 3-0 at half-time and we wanted to build a lead.

“There was a slight wind behind us, not too much, but Dave said if we can have them chasing the game, 9-0, 12-0 behind then they have to force a few things.

“It wasn’t a set plan of ours beforehand. We went to the corner at times. When we were 9-0 up we had a few cracks to the corner. The most important thing was to keep the scoreboard ticking over and keeping ahead.”

The win means the 1872 Cup, which is being played as a three-match series for the first time, will now go down to a decider on the last weekend of April. Hopefully that will provide more excitement than Saturday, which will probably only be remembered for the dramatic evacuation of the stadium due to a false fire alarm in the North Stand two minutes before the half-time interval.

Fortunately, the delay was kept to a minimum and Russell said the players were fairly unaffected.

“The only point I made after that break was that mentally we were switched on,” he said. “You might cool down a bit more because it is ten minutes longer than a normal half-time but we did a quick warm-up and we were good to go.

“For us it was making sure we were ready mentally rather than physically because the body was fine to go and mentally we could not switch off.

“There was chat depending how long the break was we may not go back on. There were a few things going through our head, the biggest being that mentally we had to be switched on.”

With a trip to Zebre and then the finishing-off of an already failed European campaign, Rennie is likely to make full use of his squad.

The Six Nations is just a month away and Russell’s involvement will be managed but he was happy to finish the year with a win which maintain’s Glasgow’s very healthy position at the top of their Pro14 conference.

“We did not expect the conditions to be as good as that,” added the 25-year-old. “The wind died down and there was no rain. If it was a grass pitch like a couple of years ago it would have been a different game.

“The forwards were good. We managed to build phases. They got us into the positions we wanted. The driving maul went well, the scrum was good, the set piece decent and our pick-and-go was good.

“We gave away a few penalties in the first half when we were down in their 22 that we will want to tighten up on. Grinding out a game like that is always pleasing. If you run away with games you can take it for granted almost.”