Thursday 22 February 2018

Kellock: We must reduce errors to bring high-flying Ulster back to earth

David Kelly

David Kelly

Glasgow's captain Ally Kellock regularly reaches for the skies as one of Europe's foremost line-out specialists -- but his side's European prospects will be grounded if they can't hit the heights against Ulster tomorrow night.

Kellock soared with remarkable athleticism to gather two line-outs and help create two stunning set-piece tries to rock Northampton in the opening half of the Franklin's Gardens clash last Sunday.

However, the Scottish side, semi-finalists in last season's Pro12 but perennial under-achievers in Europe, slumped in the second half as a litany of errors cancelled out all the good work before the break.

Now their Heineken Cup qualification hopes are resting on a knife-edge in what is a difficult pool -- they face back-to-back December clashes with Castres after tomorrow's Scotstoun encounter.

"Yeah, we need to get on track sooner rather than later," Kellock told the Irish Independent. "You don't get many second chances in this competition, we're all aware of that.

"We know that the first 35 minutes or so of the game against Northampton were pretty good from our point of view and we're really disappointed we didn't get anything more out of the game.

"There are several positives to take from the game. We went to Northampton, one of the most difficult grounds for any team to go to, and we were very competitive and we knew it was a game we could win.

"Basic organisation let us down, individual defensive errors let us down and that's an area we must focus on before facing Ulster."


Kellock dismisses suggestions that his team were simply overpowered by the English side, who took control of matters in the second half before running out 24-15, bonus-point winners.

Instead, the once insipid English side, so stunned by Glasgow's deft off-loading game in the opening half, simply started to avoid contact and mindless straight-line running.

"It wasn't the power game at all," he explained. "We didn't feel overwhelmed in any way. We dealt with the scrum and they never managed to get their driving maul operating. We expected the power but they cut us open out wide through defensive mistakes.

"We knew we had dealt with their main threats very well and hopefully the one-off mistakes will be easy for us to fix."

Kellock admits that an unbeaten Ulster side, brimming with confidence after belatedly securing the bonus point in Ravenhill against Castres in their European opener, will be a tough nut to crack, despite a minor breakdown in their set-piece from touch.

"They're going really well. We know what they can do and they're producing some of the best rugby seen up there in years," he said.

"That's been building and now they're bringing different aspects to the game. Their line-out is very strong. Although they coughed up a bit in the second half on Friday, it remains a significant strength for them."

Kellock's side may be on the verge of Heineken Cup extinction this season -- but he refuses to believe that the Glaswegians could be in danger of seeing their guaranteed berth in the event disappear during the latest round of ERC Accord negotiations.

"Let the blazers sort it, we're not worried," he said defiantly. "You'd never want to change the Ryder Cup or Champions League. We've an unbelievable competition and we have had for many years."

Irish Independent

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