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Glasgow’s winning formula needs more to beat Munster

Glasgow Warriors' Zander Fagerson (L) and Callum Gibbins have both been outstanding this season.
Glasgow Warriors' Zander Fagerson (L) and Callum Gibbins have both been outstanding this season.

Munster represent Glasgow’s toughest test of the Guinness PRO14 season so far and even the winning formula so far won’t do the job, believes Dave Rennie.

Glasgow have won their first three games under Rennie but not remotely in the fashion he wants, an scape at Cardiff last Saturday coming only because of a routine penalty miss preserving their fragile 20-19 lead.

Munster, also three-from-three, and four-from-four in beating the Warriors last season in the league and Europe, require a significant step up.

“We are happy in one perspective, we have won games without playing at our best, have shown a bit of character and found ways to win,” said Rennie. “That attitude is going to be important in this game.

“We are measuring things by our own standards. We have defended with a lot of character and only conceded two tries, but we haven’t held onto the ball for long enough.

“Last week we created a lot of opportunities but just weren’t clinical enough and that has probably been the theme of the first three weeks.

“Now, we are going to come up against a very strong defensive side. It will be a great test for us, if we can hang on to the ball tomorrow night then we can put them under a bit of pressure.”

Rennie has kept faith with the same front five for a fourth week in succession, and the restoration of skipper Ryan Wilson after a week off with a neck injury is the only change to the starting pack.

Ali Price returns at scrum-half, Rory Hughes on the wing and Peter Horne will start for Alex Dunbar, who could be out for a while after suffering a knee injury in Cardiff.

Rennie may not be as rotation conscious as his predecessor but he recognises that young players like Zander Fagerson are going to need some rest.

“We have a plan for him; he’s an impressive kid and we know what the young fellas are like, they’ll play every week and all 80 minutes if you let them,” said Rennie.

“We went our best loose forward trio out there, Callum Gibbins has made a really impressive start in the first couple of games; Ryan Wilson had a week off with a niggle and Adam Ashe has been dominant if you look at the stats, he is the top tackler in the competition will up in ball carries. He has been exceptional.

“We are happy with the way the forwards are going but there is pressure for places, Rob Harley is back will get a bit of a crack tomorrow night as well.”

The squad have not talked about Munster’s domination last year, but Rennie has watched tapes of all four games and spoken to Gregor Townsend about it.

“I am of the belief that history counts for nothing, it is what we do in the eighty minutes that will be key,” said Rennie. “I am sure there will be personal motivations for individuals who played those games.

“We have done a lot of homework on those games, and they were tight ones. Bar one they were arm wrestles that could have gone either way.

“The quality of our carry and clean-out is getting better but it is still not at the level where it needs to be, and will be really important against a side like Munster.”

Rennie revealed that two long-term injured international players, Jonny Gray and Fraser Brown, could come into the reckoning for next week against Benetton.

Glasgow Warriors (vs Munster, Guinness PRO14, Scotstoun, tonight 7.35 pm, live on BBC2 Scotland) Ruaridh Jackson; Lee Jones, Nick Grigg, Peter Horne, Rory Hughes; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson (capt), Callum Gibbins, Adam Ashe. Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Alex Allan, D’arcy Rae, Brian Alainu’uese, Rob Harley, Henry Pyrgos, Sam Johnson, Leonardo Sarto.

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