GLASGOW Warriors may have been soundly defeated by Saracens at the weekend, but there will be no radical rethinking of their methods or of their squad, according to Jonathan Humphreys. Instead, the assistant coach believes that what remains a relatively young and inexperienced playing group can continue to improve – and will do themselves justice if and when they get back into the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.
The English club beat Glasgow 56-27 in Saturday’s quarter-finals, a far more emphatic result than they managed in either of the pool games, when they won at 13-3 at Scotstoun and then 38-19 at Allianz Park. Humphreys sees his team’s home fixture, in particular, as a demonstration of how close they can get to Europe’s leading clubs if they are on top of their game – something he, like head coach Dave Rennie, accepted they clearly were not at the weekend.
“We came through a very, very tough group and we performed well in it,” he said. “You need a fraction of patience. We’ve still got a pretty young group here in terms of being in European quarter-finals. It’s only the second time in this club’s history we’ve been there, so for us it’s a big step forward from where we’ve been, but on our day in a quarter-final hopefully next year we won’t allow this to happen again.
“More of a reflection of us would be how we performed at home. I thought we were excellent at home in a really, really tight game, which you would expect between two top teams. We performed very, very well for 70 minutes the last game, so look, these games it’s extremely, extremely tough and we were off it and we got smacked and we deserved to.
“It’s obviously very disappointing for us that the game went the way it did, but for us what’s defining is how we recover from this. We don’t feel that was anywhere close to being a reflection of us, but it’s about us going out there and showing what we are made of.
“There’s no other way we can react other than to go out there and be as positive as we can, stay top of our group [in the PRO14], come back home for the semi-final and hopefully get to Celtic Park at the end of this. It’s the only way.”
The Warriors are currently three points clear of Munster at the top of Conference A, with a home game to come against Ulster on Friday, then a visit to Conference B winners Leinster, and finally in the regular season the third meeting of the campaign with Edinburgh. Despite the defeat by Saracens, Humphreys believes the team can take encouragement from their recent form in the league.
“I’m not going to walk away from there [the Saracens loss] and say ‘that defines us’, because it doesn’t. We have four, five, maybe six games that will define us, and that’s what we’re keen to do.
“At Christmas time [when they lost home and away to Edinburgh] we felt we didn’t do ourselves justice, and what we did from that was perform really well. We performed really well during the Six Nations; we got ourselves to the top of the league when we were floundering.
“I don’t think we can get away from the fact that we came up against a really good team at the weekend who we allowed to play really, really well. They’re a tough, tough team to beat, they’re big and physical and we didn’t deal with that.
“We were disappointed we didn’t bring the physicality – that will be a big one for us going forward. It’s a funny old thing sport: you’re off by a couple of percent and it’s a massive factor in these big games. We know what we need to do: we’ve done it in the past and need to get back there.”