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Strong case for the defence pleases Matt Taylor

NOW it is official:

Saturday's win at Munster has reignited hopes that Glasgow Warriors can break into the top two of the RaboDirect PRO12 table and earn a home tie in the play-off semi-finals, as well as a more a realistic shot at glory.

A few weeks ago, Gregor Townsend, the head coach, played down such talk, emphasising instead the battle just to reach the top four and get into the knockout games. Now the rhetoric has changed and Matt Taylor, the assistant in charge of defence, was happy to reflect on 40 minutes of impressive defiance against the Munster battering ram and how that has sparked a drive to better last season's third-place finish.

"We need to be at our best but, if we can manage to put in a good performance, it will push us up the table and maybe put us in a position where we can finish the season second. That's what we are hoping," he said. "In any competition you often find, statistically, if you can manage to have a home semi, you've got a better chance of progressing. That's what we're striving for, but it's a game-by-game proposition."

Clearly, Glasgow are still on a high after a famous win at Thomond Park and not just because of an opening 40 minutes which produced three tries. They have taken encouragement too, from refusing to crack even after Munster wheeled most of their rested Heineken Cup players off the bench to try to rescue the game, the only real chance of that period falling to Warriors.

As far as Taylor is concerned, it was a vindication of his style. The coach has since acknowledged that it was the best half of defensive rugby from his side, who lead the league defence statistics. "I'd probably say it was, yeah," he said. "We've had another good look at it and we still conceded six line breaks, which isn't great, but what sets us apart, maybe, from other teams is our ability to scramble, get back, fight for one another and make sure our line isn't crossed.

"We did that really well and the number of turnovers we produced was great as well. I think we forced about 20 and to do that against a team like Munster, which is renowned for not turning over any ball, was great."

That said, attention has turned already to Friday's match against Ulster, another season-defining fixture. "They're a very good side and we're going to have to be at our best, but they're going to have to deal with us as well," Taylor added. "If we can play to the same sort of intensity as we did at the weekend, any side is going to find it hard against us."

Fortunately for Glasgow, they picked up no new injuries at the weekend. Chris Cusiter dislocated a finger, but had it put back during the game and played through to the 70th minute and Alex Dunbar is expected to recover from a leg problem in time for the weekend, when the players in action at the Melrose Sevens will also be vying for places.

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