Glasgow in fine fettle as countdown to home semi begins

Rennie to keep his players at high level of physical and mental preparedness for the next three weeks

Sam Johnson's try
The Glasgow squad celebrate after Sam Johnson's try against Edinburgh. Image: ©INPHO/Craig Watson.

ALI Price: sharp as a tack in attack. Stuart Hogg: a bristling badger at the breakdown. Dave Rennie: a calm, contented coach after seeing those two and the rest of his Glasgow squad easily overpower Edinburgh.

Perhaps the main concern for Rennie now, as he looks ahead to a PRO14 home semi-final against Ulster or Connacht, is how to keep his players at this level of physical and mental preparedness for the next three weeks. Perhaps he would also be concerned by his side’s paucity of possession in the second half – and by the possibility that, given so much ball, either of the Irish provinces would surely inflict more damage than Edinburgh were able to do.

But, on the whole, the New Zealander was satisfied by a thoroughly competent evening’s work. “They play a certain game – they’re good at it,” Rennie said of his opponents after the Warriors’ 34-10 win on Saturday night. “But we defused the high ball  really well, we were clinical when we got opportunities, and when you look back when we lost to them at Murrayfield their two tries both game from intercepts and certainly one of them we should have scored off. We’re making better decisions and building pressure and a lot more accurate.”

By securing that home semi on Friday 17th May, Glasgow have so far done no more than they did last season – when they lost that last-four match to Scarlets. But they are in a far better frame of mind then, and have bounced back well from a couple of recent reverses, one in the league against Benetton and the other in their Champions Cup quarter-final at Saracens.

“When we lost to Treviso we dropped down to second in our pool and we probably knew we had to win every game from there to have a chance of getting a home semi,” Rennie continued. “It put pressure on us, and I think we’ve made good shifts since the Saracens debacle and it has given us a bit of an edge. I thought we had a good edge about us and plenty of energy.”

The Warriors have their awards dinner on Wednesday, then once that is out of the way they will begin the build-up to the semi-final, with Rennie revealing that they plan a training match 10 days out. “We’re trying to get a hit out against a team in a couple of Tuesdays’ time. When we confirm it I’ll let you know. We’ve spoken to a team who won today, so it could be an option. We’ll probably try and meet them halfway.”

Men’s Cup Final: Frazier Climo clinches it in style for Ayr to break Heriot’s hearts

Men’s Shield Final: Berwick mount sensational comeback to pip Greenock Wanderers

Men’s Bowl Final: Aberdeenshire clinch thrilling win over Dundee Uni Medics

The team in question could be Ospreys, who beat Cardiff to go into the fourth-place play-off against Scarlets – a match that is currently scheduled to be on the same weekend as the semi-finals. It is around 380 miles from Glasgow to Swansea, and halfway takes you to just north of Manchester, so a suitable venue should not be hard to find.

But wherever and whoever they play, the priority for Glasgow will be giving a decent run out to players such as Ryan Wilson who are just back from injury, and others such as Callum Gibbins and Jonny Gray who missed Saturday’s game through injury and illness respectively. For the rest of the squad who are already match fit, it will be a case of keeping things ticking over, as try-scorer Sam Johnson explained.

“We’ll recover, we’ll train. The way the mood is around the camp, we’re all enjoying coming to work. This time of year especially you can all be getting a bit annoyed with each other, but everyone is really enjoying each other’s company this year and we’re trying to make the most it. Last year we were embarrassed again, bigger games we didn’t come to the mark, so we have to go again.

“I think it helps a lot that we had a lot of pressure from Munster on us this last few weeks. We’ve had to win every game or we wouldn’t have got the home semi. I always go back to that quarter-final against Saracens – we were embarrassed that day by them. It showed what we needed to do and where we need to be to try to play the semi-final here.”

Glasgow v Edinburgh: Warriors secure home semi-final with ease

About Stuart Bathgate 1430 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.