Glasgow Warriors must learn from Toulouse loss - Sean Lineen

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland
Glasgow lost 19-11 away to Tolouse
Glasgow conceded a try when they were down to 14 men at the Stade Ernest-Wallon

It's the hope that kills you.

In the build-up to Glasgow's Champions Cup visit to Toulouse, much of the discussion centred on the fading powers of the four-time European champions and how this could be a great scalp-taking opportunity.

Lying seventh in the table, Toulouse have not exactly been lighting up the Top 14 this season despite boasting a host of stellar names.

Warriors have been a team on the rise, gradually improving their finishes in the Pro 12 and starting this season's Champions Cup with impressive wins over Bath and Montpellier.

So a Toulouse team on the wane against the coming force that is Glasgow. Reputation v Potential. Had they yet reached the point in the progress graph at which they overlapped?

The answer on Sunday's evidence is no. The Warriors found out that there is no substitute for experience in a bruising 19-11 loss.

They may not possess the magic of old but, like a heavyweight boxer past his peak, invite Toulouse onto you and they can still put you on your backside with a hammer blow or two.

Head coach Gregor Townsend will see many of the problems as self-inflicted, with Finn Russell and Leone Nakarawa sent to the sin-bin.

And yet the Warriors showed enough in defeat to suggest they can turn things around when the sides meet again in Glasgow on Saturday.

European Champions Cup Pool Four

"Being back at Scotstoun, I think it'll be a different scenario there, roared on by seven, eight, nine thousand Glasgow supporters," former head coach Sean Lineen told BBC Scotland.

"Glasgow really took it to Toulouse early on, they had a couple of chances and they certainly created enough to get something out of the game. Not getting that conversion at the end for the bonus point, they'll be disappointed with that.

"The main thing for Glasgow is to look at their discipline. They got yellow cards at key times.

"Discipline was a big factor. The penalty count was 14-5 or something ridiculous like that.

"In years gone past it was always difficult to get the referees to referee the match and not reputations. Toulouse are a big-name and Glasgow were hard done by for a couple of penalties, but they need to look at that area."

Another defeat would leave Glasgow struggling to secure the quarter-final berth they so desperately crave, but Lineen does not expect Townsend to alter too much, either tactically or in terms of personnel.

"I don't think there will be wholesale changes," said the former Scotland centre.

"Gregor's got a fantastic squad of depth there, a lot of choice right through the squad. I think they'll continue with their high-tempo ball-in-hand approach to keep Toulouse moving, keep moving the points of attack as they have done all season.

Niko Matawalu scored a late consolation try for Glasgow
Niko Matawalu scored a late consolation try for Glasgow at the Stade Ernest-Wallon

"Underpinning all of that is their incredible defensive work-rate. There were a couple of times that Toulouse did break through and yet again the Glasgow scramble-defence worked so well. Some last-ditch tackles stopped Toulouse getting over the line.

"They need to do that again, they need to keep their line intact."

If Glasgow are to topple the French giants on home soil, they will have to subdue a formidable back-row.

"The Toulouse back-row are very good, very experienced," added Lineen. "It doesn't matter who you pick - Imanol Harinordoquy, you've got Thierry Dusautoir who came off the bench, Yanick Nyanga is very good at the line-out and you've got big Louis Picamoles at the back.

"They are experienced certainly but I think Glasgow have youth on their side, real energy there.

"Rob Harley is playing well, and you've got Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss and Ryan Wilson to come in, so I don't think Toulouse necessarily have the upper hand in the back row, especially when the game is played at a ferocious pace.

"Glasgow know they have to win this to stay at the forefront in Europe. Getting to the quarter-finals would be a massive statement and, having spoken to a couple of the players, they are hell-bent on doing that."

If Glasgow can take care of Toulouse and make it through from the group, then perhaps they can start to think about forging their own reputation as one of the game's heavyweights.