Warriors and Scotland heading in the Wright direction

PETER WRIGHT is desperately hoping Scottish rugby can build on "a massive weekend".

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Niko Matawalu will be looking to impress once again
Niko Matawalu will be looking to impress once again

The former Scotland hooker reckons that Glasgow Warriors' season-best defeat of RaboDirect Pro12 leaders Ulster and Scotland's RBS Six Nations victory over Ireland have given the game here the huge shot in the arm it badly needed.

However, Wright says both teams' ability to build on these victories in the coming weeks will provide the acid test of their potential to drive the professional game forward north of the border, with Edinburgh Rugby remaining in freefall.

Glasgow and Scotland will face Welsh opposition on home soil in their next outings, with Cardiff due at Scotstoun on Friday and the Welsh national side heading for Murrayfield on Saturday week.

The former Scotland star said: "I think if you look at Glasgow's victory over Ulster at Scotstoun, and combine it with Scotland's victory over Ireland in the Six Nations, they were two results which were hugely positive for the Scottish game.

"Although you have to factor in Edinburgh's decline somewhere at the same time, positive results like these two can't go unnoticed. I thought Glasgow played some smashing high-tempo rugby against Ulster, and you have to remember they beat a side who had already defeated them on three occasions this season.

"I believe that was only Ulster's second defeat of the season and that underlines just what an important win it was. It has also put Glasgow in the driving seat towards achieving a home semi-final in the PRO12 play-offs that would accompany a second-place finish.

"With the confidence they can take from that victory, they have a chance to drive on again this Friday against Cardiff and go all out for another victory. But with that win taking Glasgow to within three points of Ulster in first place, they may now be setting their sights even higher than second."

Turning his attention to the significance of Scotland's first back-to-back victories in the Six Nations since 2001, Wright admits that, although they showed grit to clinch the Irish conquest, they still have plenty of room for improvement.

The backs-to-the-wall nature of the Murrayfield victory is amply illustrated by the stats, with Scotland completing 128 tackles to 44, the Irish enjoying a possession advantage of 79% to 21%, and territorial domination by 77% to 23%.

Wright added: "You look at the stats and they underline just how hard Scotland were pushed by the Irish but, really, the only stat that matters is the one on the scoreboard. Basically, we found a way to win a game we had no business winning. That, for me, is in stark contrast to some of the performances we have had from Scotland in recent seasons.

"What struck me as really impressive was the spirit in the side that really got them through at the end of the day. However, Scotland will have to be better again when Wales come to Murrayfield.

"But the big positives were how well the set-piece held up. The lineout was excellent, with Jim Hamilton outstanding and the scrum rock solid. We have won our first consecutive games in the Six Nations in 12 years and that is hugely positive."

Returning to Glasgow, he admitted Gregor Townsend's troops have set the bar high for themselves after the 20-14 defeat of Ulster.

The former British Lions star said: "There were some huge performances from Glasgow last time out and none more so than at scrum-half, where Niko Matawalu was sensational.

"But I don't imagine Glasgow will get too many players back from Scotland, so the same group will probably have to go again and, hopefully, they can maintain the standards they set against Ulster."


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