Galthie primed for another tough clash
December 11, 2007
Stade Francais Paris clung onto top spot in Pool 3 after surviving a ferocious onslaught from Cardiff Blues in Paris but head coach Fabien Galthie accepts the rematch at the Arms Park on Saturday could be crucial in deciding automatic qualification to the quarter-finals.
The Blues left the French capital with a losing bonus point after their 12-6 defeat and Galthie is well aware that the Blues and Bristol Rugby - 17-3 winners at Harlequins - are poised just a point behind them and ready to pounce on any lapse.
"The game in Cardiff on Saturday will be decisive but we must bear in mind we have other games to play so we must be cautious and save some of our resources hoping we will go through the Pool stages," he said.
"We have another away game, at Harlequins in Round 6 which won't be easy either, and we can only hope to get good results in both. The win over the Blues was satisfying but we know there is still some work to be done.
"Because against the Blues you saw that the standard in the Heineken Cup is very high. We don't know how far we will go but I think we deserve to be among the elite.
"No-one knows what the conditions will be like in Wales at the weekend but in Paris the conditions weren't ideal and yet we managed to handle the situation.
"The team showed an excellent attitude, especially in gaining territory, and if we manage to keep playing that way in the next couple of games then it should pay off and we can make real progress.
"We are still missing about 15 key men so if we can get some of them back that will be a bonus and help us raise our levels even more."
Fabrice Landreau, who assists Galthie with the coaching, added: "Due to the conditions we played a more restricted game up front from committed players, although the least infringement was immediately penalised so it wasn't easy.
"Personally, I wasn't too keen on the option to play with the wind in our back in the first half but in the end it paid off. We are happy with the victory which was greeted more with relief than anything else as it was complicated and tough until the very end.
"I am particularly proud of our scrum. The forwards dominated in that area and our territory gain and determination to defend our line was formidable - especially when we spent about 15 minutes determined not to concede a late try.
"In a tournament like the Heineken Cup you always need that type of game to give you a boost. We knew the quality of the Cardiff Blues but we finished those vital few points ahead of them which, hopefully, will help us go further.
"The return game in Cardiff will be tough and complex. We'll have to pamper and look after our two props, Rodrigo Roncero and Pieter de Villiers, so that they are ready for Saturday.
"We are half-way through the Pool stages of the Heineken Cup and we are not quite where we hoped to be as we hoped to get a bonus point in Bristol a couple of weeks ago.
"But Bristol Rugby proved they are a major team in this group. What we have to do now is to get a good result in Cardiff to secure our place in the tournament.
"Then we play Bristol and Harlequins but for now we have to focus on Saturday's fixture - which I believe will be the turning point in the competition. Cardiff Blues produced a lot of momentum with big individuals both up front and at the back, and they are dangerous."
FRIDAY 14 DECEMBER, 2007
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