Townsend proud of second-half effort despite defeat

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend was disappointed after his side’s narrow defeat to Ulster, but expressed his pride at the reaction of his squad to the challenges faced during the game.

Despite the return of the likes of Finn Russell and Mark Bennett to the Warriors’ starting lineup, it was the visitors who edged a tight affair in front of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun. Speaking after the 22-17 defeat, Townsend said:

“As coaches, we’re very proud of the effort that went into that second half. We had a few injuries and had to adapt, as well as having a couple of players suffering from illness. Pat MacArthur had to call off just before the game, whilst Jonny Gray played the full game despite being ill this morning.

“We were second best in the first half, and maybe we didn’t adapt as well to the early injuries to Tjiuee [Uanivi] and Greg [Peterson] as we should have. They kept getting front foot ball, and I thought Ruan Pienaar was outstanding. We defended much better in the second half and scored a cracking try. We had a few more sequences close to their line, but credit to Ulster’s defence for holding out.”

The Warriors now face two away matches in succession, with a trip to Parma to face Zebre following this Friday’s fixture against Newport Gwent Dragons. Townsend is aware of the challenges that will face his team, saying:

“Two away games in a row is always tough. Newport is a difficult place to go. They play an uncompromising brand of rugby and are very good at the breakdown.

“It’ll be a good test for us. We’re likely to have a younger group next week due to injuries, but I was pleased with how the younger players stepped up tonight. We’ll see who’s available early next week and go down there looking to improve and build upon tonight’s second half.”