80-minute mission is Glasgow's target ...

IT's amazing how your fortunes can change in the Rabo Direct Pro12 – so we are not getting carried away with back-to-back bonus point wins.

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Gregor Townsend wants to see a complete performance from his Glasgow Warriors
Gregor Townsend wants to see a complete performance from his Glasgow Warriors

We had prepared ourselves for a very tough match against Newport Gwent Dragons down in Wales last Friday night.

Scottish teams do not have a good record at Rodney Parade; neither Edinburgh or Glasgow had won there since way 2008.

Fortunately, things clicked for us, we took our opportunities, the Dragons had an off- night and we ended up winning by a record 60-3 scoreline.

But there could be no bigger test for us than the one we will face at Scotstoun tomorrow evening when we take on the league leaders Ulster.

They have beaten us three times in three meetings so far this season. We have been competitive in those matches. But we have not played with enough quality and intensity for the full 80 minutes.

That must change if we are to get a result this time out. In the first fixture of the season at Ravenhill we were in the game with five minutes to go and had a chance to score a try. The ball was intercepted.

We respect them and how they play. They have a lot of traits we try to reproduce. It is easy to see why they are in first place in the league and do so well in Europe.

But I think they respect us too. In our last meeting at Ravenhill in poor conditions we put ourselves in a position to win the game. We just have to ensure that we perform for the 80 minutes this time.

It has been an unusual week for us, a typical RBS 6 Nations week, in that we have had seven or eight of our Scotland internationals back.

We have formulated a game plan, as we do in every match that we play, that we hope will play away from their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.

But when you play teams at the top of this table you need to do everything with tremendous accuracy and aggression. We are not going to break them down easily and it will take a massive effort to open up holes.

They are affected, as we are ourselves, by having their international players away. But they still have a couple of excellent Test players in their ranks. Ruan Pienaar, of South Africa, is an outstanding scrum-half or stand-off. He is the current Springbok No.9 and has been excellent against us in the past.

John Afoa, their tighthead prop, has won a lot of caps for New Zealand and we must be at our very best to negate his influence.

We were given a lift ahead of the match this week when DTH van der Merwe agreed to sign a two-year contract extension. He is an important player for us on and off the field. He needs just two more tries to become our all-time record touchdown scorer and hopefully he can achieve that feat against Ulster.

Elsewhere, I'm looking forward to the Scotland game against Ireland at Murrayfield on Sunday – and I'm optimistic we can win. I think Scott Johnson's side will have an edge on the visitors, who have some injury concerns, after their fine win over Italy a fortnight ago.

Coach Declan Kidney will be without his first choice stand-off and his inside centre and will have to field a new combination in what is a key area.

If Scotland can produce another defensive performance like the one we did against the Azzurri earlier on this month then we will be very difficult to beat indeed.


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