Elwood set for a bruising encounterSeptember 21, 2012 - 7:00am
By Dara Bradley
At the launch of this season’s RaboDirect Pro 12 competition in Glasgow in August, Connacht coach Eric Elwood, tongue in cheek, asked Gregor Townsend, the new incoming head coach of local side, Glasgow Warriors, if he’d be changing the way the Scottish team plays.
Townsend was well known as an exciting, attacking and running out-half and back who represented Scotland and the British and Irish Lions with distinction during his playing career.
Attacking with flair and an abandon that at times bordered on reckless, as Townsend did, is generally not something you’d instantly associate with Glasgow, a traditionally conservative, consistent side that finished in the top four last season mostly based on solid set-pieces and forwards play and their ability to stop the opposition from playing, rather than their aptitude at prising open defences.
Whether he can change the Warriors into a more potent attacking force remains to be seen but Townsend, with just three competitive matches under his belt, has had little opportunity to stamp his flamboyant streak on Glasgow so far.
Little wonder, then, that Elwood is preparing for a bruising, physical encounter first and foremost, when the teams clash this Friday, at 7.35pm in the hosts’ new home, the Scotstoun Stadium.
“We’ve got to bring physicality to our game because when you go to Glasgow, they are going to be physical,” said Elwood.
“They’ve a very big back line, they are all very physical and big ball carriers and they’re direct. The first thing when you go to Glasgow is you’ve got to be up for that physical confrontation. Gregor was known as a terrific running outside half . . . but he recognises the talent he has in the squad and one of their big strengths is they are a huge hard working defensive team, have a solid set piece, a great tackle and tag team. He appreciates that that’s what they’ve got, obviously he’ll be hoping to bring his principles of attack into their style of play but as I say, they are a huge threat with or without the ball and they’ll only get better,” he said.
You’d expect Connacht can only get better as the season progresses, too, but the manner in which they collapsed at the start of the second-half at home to the Scarlets last Saturday was a throwback to the bad old days at the Sportsground.
Leading by eight points to nil at the break, Connacht conceded three preventable tries inside 11 minutes of the restart to give the visitors a 17-8 advantage, which could have been more had they taken their kicks, including a missed penalty and two missed conversions.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.