Lee Jones: Warriors still have Pro12 play-off chance

The pain of Sunday's sound beating at Saracens will understandably be lingering in the Glasgow Warriors camp but, even in the post-match huddle on the Allianz Park pitch, there was a burning desire to ensure the loss did not mark the end of their season.

Lee Jones makes a try-saving tackle on Saracens' Chris Ashton. The Warriors wing says his team's focus is now firmly back on the Pro12. Picture: Getty
Lee Jones makes a try-saving tackle on Saracens' Chris Ashton. The Warriors wing says his team's focus is now firmly back on the Pro12. Picture: Getty

The dream of reaching the European Champions Cup final at BT Murrayfield next month may be over, after a first ever quarter-final appearance resulted in a comprehensive 38-13 defeat by the holders in London, but Gregor Townsend’s men are now determined to now exert every last ounce of energy in their bid for a Guinness Pro12 play-off spot.

The Warriors are currently sixth, ten points behind fourth-placed Ulster, having struggled in the international windows when they were without most of their first-choice XV. Warriors need to win all their remaining four regular season games, starting on Sunday away to this season’s bogey team Munster, and hope that Ulster and Scarlets above them slip up.

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A sixth successive play-off spot may be beyond them this term but it won’t be for lack of trying, insisted Lee Jones.

The wing was one of the Glasgow players on Sunday for whom the pain of collective defeat clouded out any pleasure at a fine personal performance. The Selkirk man was excellent in attack and defence, scoring the early second-half try which briefly got the Warriors back in the hunt and executing some try-saving tackles at the other end.

Jones insisted there would be no hangover and Glasgow would come out firing in Cork this Sunday.

“We even spoke about it on the field at the end,” said the 28-year-old. “We said that result’s done, there’s nothing we can do about it now, and Europe’s done for the season for us, so it’s about switching that focus back on to the league.

“We’re going to need to win every match that’s left, and the next one’s Munster.”

The former Edinburgh player freely admitted that Saracens were a class above on Sunday and said: “We never had a lot of ball in the first half when they dominated. Over the whole game they dominated the gain line, and that was one thing we had looked to – if we can stop them there, that’s when they lose games, and that’s where we would have won the match.

“They probably got that gain line first phase, second phase, and that’s where we struggled to defend after that.”

Getting out of the pool stages for the first time, from what was an incredibly demanding group, is something that Glasgow can take pride from, another milestone in the admirable journey of the last few years, but it is now about working out how to take that next step to genuinely competing with the creme de la creme of European rugby.

“That’s the magic question,” said Jones. “I think the boys will be better for having had that experience. When it comes to games like that, it’s little things that make a big difference.

“We were in that game at 14-8, but then there were a couple of things that went wrong and suddenly the game looked like it was slipping away from us.”

There was a bittersweet mood after the game and Jones added: “It was amazing just walking round at the end to see all the Glasgow Warriors flags. To see so many come down and still be making a noise when the result was gone at the end. For that number of fans to come down to London and support us is huge, and I think that shows the way Glasgow have felt over the last few years.”