Glasgow Warriors: Loss sharpens focus for semi-final - Townsend

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Glasgow Warriors are the defending Pro12 champions
Glasgow Warriors are the defending Pro12 champions
Guinness Pro12 semi-final: Glasgow Warriors v Connacht
Date: Saturday, 21 May Venue: The Sportsground, Galway Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland MW and BBC Sport website

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend says defeat to Connacht two weeks ago was "the best thing" for his side's Pro12 semi-final preparations.

A 14-7 loss in Galway consigned Glasgow to third place, and a last-four rematch at the Sportsground on Saturday.

"You certainly look at how you can be better after a defeat with more of a magnifying glass," said Townsend.

"It would've been better for the club and fans to be at home but that defeat has really sharpened our focus."

The reverse in Galway left Townsend and his staff with a fortnight to analyse and fine-tune ahead of their return.

"We learned a lot about ourselves, how to handle certain situations," said Townsend. "How we would do some things differently tactically given the scoreline, given what the opposition are doing.

"We learned how Connacht approach the game from an attacking point of view, and how they reacted to the way we defended and what they were looking to do in their defence to put us under pressure.

"It was a great experience for us; we're going back into the same environment, against the same team. We expect them to change a couple of things but at least we've worked on the things we should've done better last time."

Glasgow scrum-half Henry Pyrgos
Pyrgos has recovered from a neck injury to take part in the semi-final

The visitors are without Sila Puafisi since the Fiji prop is serving a suspension for the headbutt that led to his dismissal early in the second half the last time the sides met.

But Townsend is able to reinstate Henry Pyrgos as one of five changes to the team that lost at the Sportsground and the coach will hope that the scrum-half's game-management can make the difference in what have been close contests in recent seasons.

Much is made of the fact that no away team has won a Pro12 semi-final since the play-off format was introduced, and the Warriors' previous two matches at this stage - both at Scotstoun - against Ulster and Munster respectively, were decided by two and one points respectively.

"It's great having Henry there as a nine, with the ability he has, but also from a team perspective, he offers so much," explained Townsend.

"He's one of our key leaders, especially in the tactical side of it.

"We saw that in the Scarlets game [Glasgow triumphing 46-10 in mid-April], both him and Ryan Wilson were helping [captain] Jonny Gray, and it's great to have him back. He's trained for 10 days and he's in great form.

"We've seen the importance of being in control of your emotions during the semi-final; we've certainly got the feeling the players are confident, in control, they know what's required of them. That comes not just from semi-final experience, but also from playing international rugby."