Gregor Townsend: Glasgow win at Racing 92 'next best' result after Pro12 final

Racing 92 fly-half Dan Carter is tackled by Glasgow centre Alex Dunbar
Glasgow kept Racing 92 star Dan Carter well shackled until his late try

Gregor Townsend says only Glasgow's 2015 Pro12 final win over Munster ranks higher during his time as coach than Saturday's European Champions Cup victory over Racing 92 in Paris.

Warriors claimed a deserved victory at the home of last season's finalists, with tries from Alex Dunbar and Ali Price and 13 points from Finn Russell.

It boosts hopes of qualifying for the first time, in Townsend's final season.

"It's got to be the next best [result] after the Pro12 final," he said.

"The final was a stand-out - the guys delivered in a game that really counted for something.

"Today counted for a lot, the opposition was outstanding and they delivered.

"We have played some cracking games in Europe - Bath (in 2014) and Leicester (this year) stand out - but to come over here, where I'm told they have not lost for two years in Europe, they had their full team out, and given we lost by a big score here last year, shows what this team is capable of."

Other great Glasgow wins in Europe:
Oct 2016: Glasgow 42-13 LeicesterJan 2009: Toulouse 26-33 Glasgow
Oct 2014: Glasgow 37-10 BathDec 1999: Glasgow 30-17 Leicester

Racing began in ominous fashion, Juan Imhoff's try rounding off a period of intense pressure as the visitors were forced onto the back foot.

But the response to that early setback pleased Townsend as his men prevented Racing from registering a single point for over an hour after that early score.

"After their first try, the way we played after that was great," the former Scotland fly-half, who will succeed Vern Cotter as national coach next summer, told BBC Scotland.

"We took them on with ball in hand and we also fronted up defensively.

"They've got some brilliant attacking players - obviously (former Glasgow lock) Leone Nakarawa we know well, Dan Carter, (Juan) Imhoff - so we knew the game would be open. We had to take our opportunities, which we did, and then we had to defend really well, which we certainly did in the second half.

"Maybe the (Imhoff) try, which was probably our only poor bit of defence throughout the game, got the guys more focused. Sometimes it works like that.

"Defence is a lot to do with mindset, your desire to get up and hit, to pull width so you're working hard and filling the space. We had a lot of really good tackles today with Simone Favaro and Rob Harley leading the way there."

Glasgow lock Jonny Gray tackles Racing wing Juan Imhoff
Captain Jonny Gray (right) topped the Glasgow tackle count with 20 in a superb display

Russell 'in his element' in biggest games

An intriguing sub-plot was the battle of the number 10s - the All Blacks legend Dan Carter versus Scotland's creative fulcrum Finn Russell.

Carter produced a moment of brilliance late on, showing wonderful footwork to dance away from a couple of tackles to score, but it was Russell who left the greater impression on the match.

"He loves the big games, Finn," explained Townsend. "You can just tell he's in his element when he's playing Test matches, playing the highest games in Europe and that was obviously a massive game.

"He was very confident in his decisions when to pass the ball. There are still some things to work on. We'll probably sit down and look at the video of a couple of his offloads on Monday afternoon. But he also works really hard in defence.

"He's a 10 that will put the tackles in. As an all-round game I thought Finn did very well."

Glasgow fly-half Finn Russell juggles the ball against Racing 92
Fly-half Finn Russell marshalled Glasgow's attack superbly and also defended well

'Racing will throw everything at us next week'

With Munster top of Pool One, having played a game fewer than Glasgow, Townsend is fully aware his men cannot afford to bask in the glory of this famous win for too long.

They face Racing again at Scotstoun on Friday, and Townsend says with the French champions in the position of simply having to win to keep their hopes of progression alive, they will be a dangerous proposition.

"We're at the halfway stage. We've had two really good wins, two really good performances and a poor performance in there against Munster.

"Munster are now looking like one of the best teams in Europe. They've been on fire the last few weeks. We've got to play them again at Scotstoun [on 13 January].

"Racing will be better next week, they'll know more about us. They'll throw everything at us as well. It might be their last chance of staying in the pool, and if we can get through that into those games in January with a chance of qualifying, then that would be great for this group."

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