DANNY WILSON says he understands why many Glasgow Warriors fans were left feeling exasperated by their team throwing away a winning position against Benetton last weekend, but has insisted that the general trajectory under his watch is in the right direction.
Warriors were two points ahead and had the put-in at a scrum on Benetton’s 22 with just two minutes to play on Saturday, but instead of closing the game down they decided to roll the dice in search of an unnecessary third try and ended up conceding three soft penalties which ultimately led to home stand-off Leonardo Marin kicking his team to victory in injury-time.
It was a shocking capitulation, but Wilson says that it is unfair to view that catastrophic last few minutes in isolation.
“We’re 50 percent this season with three good wins and three losses, two of them against big Irish provinces,” reasoned the Warriors coach. “This one was disappointing as we lost a game we should have won.
“Closing out a game is part of the learnings. As a group we’re still building and taking steps forward. There will be tight last-minute games that we win and some that we lose, but we lost this one from our own poor management and discipline, so this is a bump in the road.
“I’m not going to get carried away from one game,” he continued. “We went there last year, and they put 40 points on us. We were awful. It’s a tough venue to go and win, and now both us and Edinburgh have lost there by a point.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t go there expecting to win. I’m as disappointed as anyone that we didn’t manage that last weekend but until then our win ratio from the Rainbow Cup onwards was far more positive than it was before.
“We’re making steps in the right direction. We’ve got new signings and new opportunities. Had we won last weekend we would have been third or fourth in the league. Now we’re in mid-table and we want to be up in that top four.”
Wilson is always very measured in his public comments, and that has perhaps contributed to a sense among some supporters that he might not be the right man to ensure that Warriors have the ruthless edge required to see out tight matches, but he insists that he left his players in no doubt about his dissatisfaction after Saturday’s match.
“There’s a time and a place for the hard talk, for the emotional side to come out and to express how you feel,” he said. “Calling players out is still a part of the game but there’s a way of doing it in the modern era that keeps the players tight as a group.
“After the game [on Saturday] was probably the most passionate after-match conversation that I’ve given. I made my feelings pretty clear because we’re way better than that. We have enough maturity and leadership on the field to put that game away.
“Then, on Monday we analysed the game as normal and looked at those 90 seconds because we have to take the learnings from that, but the emotional bit was after the game. The more controlled analysis was on Monday.”
A good performance and positive result against the Dragons at Scotstoun on Saturday evening is now vital. Wilson said that some players who got significant game time for Scotland during the Autumn Test Series are likely to be rested, and he also indicated that Scott Cummings won’t be back from the shoulder injury he picked up playing against Japan a fortnight ago.
However, Lions pair Ali Price and Zander Fagerson will return to the selection mix after being given last weekend off, and Wilson suggested back-three man Josh McKay could be in line for his first outing in Warriors colours after arriving from his native New Zealand just under a fortnight ago.
“We’ve had some good battles with the Dragons recently,” concluded Wilson. “Last season we had a good bonus point win down there and we know what it took to get that.
“I expect a few internationals to come back to play for them, but it’s a home game against a side below us in the league. We won’t take them lightly as they’re an improved side in recent years, but we’ll be aiming and expecting to win.”
- The Offside Line’s coverage of Glasgow Warriors is powered by McCrea Financial Services.
- McCrea Financial Services sponsor Glasgow Warriors and provide a wide range of financial advisory services including mortgage, pension and retirement planning advice. See www.mccreafs.co.uk to contact them for more information.