Rugby Stats: Glasgow have to up the ante for visit of Munster

Gregor Townsend’s side need to improve if they are to sustain European ambitions

Munster defeated Glasgow Warriors 16-15 in the Pro12 League at Scotstoun on December 2nd. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho.

Munster defeated Glasgow Warriors 16-15 in the Pro12 League at Scotstoun on December 2nd. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho.

 

The Glasgow Warriors will have to achieve a feat never previously managed in the Champions Cup during Gregor Townsend’s tenure as head coach at Scotstoun on Saturday when they take on Munster in the pivotal Pool 1 tie.

In five European seasons under Townsend’s direction the Scottish club hasn’t won all three home matches in the pool stages of the tournament, a record they can eclipse if they can squeeze past the Irish province at the weekend. They’ll need to if the want to sustain an ambition of pool winners.

Townsend, who takes over from Vern Cotter as Scotland coach at the end of the season, was appointed to the Warriors position in the summer of 2012, and has since overseen five European campaigns. While the club has enjoyed success in the Pro12 during that time, losing to Leinster in the 2014 final and then beating Munster 31-13 in the 2015 decider at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast, Glasgow has endured a frustrating time in Europe.

During that time in the European tournament the Warriors have played 28 matches, losing 16 and six of those defeats have come at home. They were beaten in the first five pool matches in 2012/’13, including a brace of setbacks against Ulster, before recording a first victory in defeating the Northampton Saints 27-20.

Own turf

In the aforementioned timeframe, Glasgow have lost to Ulster (18-9), Castres Olympique (9-6), Cardiff Blues (29-20), Toulon (15-8), Toulouse (12-9) and the Northampton Saints (26-15) on their own turf.

Indeed the last team to beat them at Scotstoun, albeit in a Pro12 match, was Munster who triumphed thanks to a late drop goal (16-15) from outhalf Ian Keatley. That match took place at the beginning of last month.

Indeed Munster boast a reasonable record on their travels against the Scottish club in the Pro12 during Townsend’s time, winning twice in six matches: 16-15 in December (2016) and 13-6 in the 2013/’14 season. The Warriors avenged the latter defeat later that season when prevailing 16-15 in a semi-final at Scotstoun.

Aside from a 51-24 thumping in the 2012/’13 season, Glasgow’s other three home wins in that period have been really close tussles, twice edging home by three points 21-18 and 27-24 in a match played at Rugby Park, and that previously mentioned one point semi-final success.

Munster’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus might accept a losing bonus point as a worst case scenario on Saturday evening but has every reason to anticipate a better result. There has been so much to admire about the manner in which Munster have dealt with adversity on and off the pitch.

They deserve all the plaudits lavished on them for a series of outstanding performances, each with a separate identity but no less compelling in drawing from diverse qualities, from the nadir of their defeat to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.

Even when losing to the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road in arguably their most fitful and exasperating 80-minutes of the last few months, they still came with seconds of eking out a victory.

Punctured balloon

Niall Scannell’s try and Tyler Bleyendaal’s conversion that the New Zealander watched while sprawled on his backside, fly like a punctured balloon through the posts, almost rescued a victory.

Munster had forged a position of promise in the first half, lost their way after the break but, displaying that bloody-mindedness of old, dragged each other to the cusp of victory. There is a surfeit of statistics to lean on depending on preference.

Glasgow have scored 130 points in their four matches to date, Munster have conceded the fewest points (42) in the tournament and less than a try a match (three in four games).

The Warriors’ centre Mark Bennett averages more per carry (14.9) than any other in the tournament with more than 10 carries while CJ Stander (69) has carried more than any other player in the competition and is one of 12 to have played every minute of every match.

What does this mean? Nothing more, than it promises to be a cracking, closely contested game between two excellent teams that play entertaining, winning rugby.

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