GREGOR Townsend praised the self-belief and fighting qualities of his Glasgow Warriors team last night as they beat Ulster 27-17 at Scotstoun last night to increase their prospects of claiming a play-off place in the PRO12. The defending champions and Ulster are now both on 51 points, just outside the top four in the table, but Glasgow have a game in hand on Ulster and the other teams above them - Connacht, Leinster, Scarlets and Munster.

Stuart Hogg, named the Six Nations Player of the Tournament earlier this week, had an early lapse when he was yellow-carded in the opening minutes for a professional foul, but he redeemed himself with a fine individual try and the last-minute penalty which denied Ulster a bonus point for a narrow win.

“I think the yellow card was a wee bit harsh, but you can understand why the referee gave it,” Townsend said. “He [Hogg] responded very well.

“He didn’t get the best possession, but he’s full of energy and his try reminded me of the one he scored here against Ulster in the last game of the regular season last year. We’ve got that belief that if we keep attacking the tries will come - and the goal kick at the end was never in doubt, was it?”

After struggling for months to hit a productive vein of form, Glasgow have begun to play far more consistently at possibly just the right time. “Probably the run of games,” Townsend continued when asked where the improvement had come from. “We’ve just had an opportunity to play a lot of rugby. We weren’t very consistent tonight, we know we can be better, but it’s great when you’ve got momentum and confidence.

“We’re still a bit away, but there were times last season when we didn’t play that great. People tend to look back at the highlights of last season, but there were some games where we didn’t play as well.

“I was blown away by some of the stuff the players did in training on Monday and Tuesday. That will just come the more we’re together, and we’ll get a great opportunity next week when we go out to Italy for ten days and two games there.”

The Warriors have five games of the regular season left - against Treviso, Zebre home and away, then Scarlets and finally Connacht. Their fate remains firmly in their own hands.