1872 Cup: Rennie insists his Warriors are still a team on the up

The Warriors coach accepts that Richard Cockerill’s team have also improved

Dave Rennie will do battle with Richard Cockerill again this weekend.
Dave Rennie will do battle with Richard Cockerill again this weekend. Image: ©INPHO/Craig Watson.

THAT long unbeaten run at the start of the season may feel like a distant memory in the light of Glasgow’s more recent, indifferent form, but Dave Rennie is confident that his team are better now than they were at Christmas.  That is partly because of the personnel he has available at this stage of the season who were out injured around the turn of the year, but also because of a few changes he has made more recently to the team’s game plan.

As he looked ahead to Saturday’s game against Edinburgh, however, the Warriors coach accepted that Richard Cockerill’s team have also improved. Because of that, and because Glasgow need a good performance in their last PRO14 game before their home semi-final, Rennie expects his players to raise their game significantly compared to last weekend’s limp defeat by Ulster.

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“I guess when I look back at who wasn’t playing around Christmas – I think the team that we’ll name on Thursday, probably half that side didn’t play in either of those games,” he said when asked if he thought his team were better now. “We’re a different side. Last weekend was disappointing, but we’ve made some alterations in our game and we’ll start to see the benefits of it. We’ve just got to be more clinical.

“We did a lot of things really well [in Belfast]. We created a lot of opportunities, but some of our decision-making, and not throwing another pass, ended up hurting us. There was some pretty soft defence in the last 20.

“Yeah, look, we’re disappointed, because we want to take a bit of momentum into the play-offs. Hopefully that will sharpen us up for this weekend.

“We’ve talked a lot about the fact that we don’t want to be taking our foot off the pedal thinking we’ve already achieved the initial goal of a semi. I would hope that at the back of the mind the guys are really focused on performing well. We’ve got lots of competition for places, so that should put pressure on everyone to front.

“So for that reason the game was disappointing at the weekend. But I guess we get a chance to rectify things this weekend.”

Inter-city rivals

Glasgow easily won their last encounter with Edinburgh, defeating their visitors 17-0 at Scotstoun the day before Hogmanay. With Saturday’s match being at Murrayfield, however, the match a week earlier is possibly a more relevant comparison – and Rennie needs no reminding that the Warriors lost that one 18-17, despite having a man advantage for all but the first six minutes after Simon Berghan was sent off.

“I think we were terribly inaccurate that day,” the coach accepted. “We created so many opportunities. We could have jogged over for a couple.

“But you’ve got to give credit to Edinburgh too – they hung in there. We were probably a bit naive in the last 20 minutes and they did a really good job. You’ve just got to give credit where credit’s due. I think the following weekend we were far more direct and got a reasonably good result.

“To be honest, I was more nervous when they dropped to 14. It’s not the first time I’ve coached a side that’s had 15 v 14 and still lost – although not generally for 74 minutes. Sometimes you take the foot off the pedal because you think it’s going to be a little bit easier, and in fact you’ve got to keep working hard.

“We won’t talk too much about that encounter, or even the one we beat them at home. It’s about getting things right now. They’re a different side – I reckon they’re a better side than they were when we played them around Christmas. I know there’s a lot of talk about how confident they are, and so they should be.

“I think defensively. They’ve got some really good defensive stats. They’re working hard for each other. It makes them a little bit harder to break down. That’s our challenge at the weekend.”

Rennie never gives too much away about selection in advance of the team’s being announced, but he did drop a hint about one possible change when asked about the form of his scrum-halves. “We’re lucky we’ve got four good half-backs to choose from,” he said, perhaps implying that George Horne will return to the squad for the first time since his participation in the Commonwealth Games sevens tournament.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1438 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.