Glasgow Warriors ready for step up in class but have wind in sails for trip to Exeter Chiefs
Glasgow Warriors will make the journey to Sandy Park next Saturday for their Champions Cup pool match against Exeter Chiefs with wind in their sails after securing a fine bonus-point win at home to Ospreys this weekend.
The 38-19 victory was particularly impressive because it was their first outing in three weeks due to a Covid outbreak in the squad during the festive season.
They know that they face a step-up in class next weekend, but Warriors’ winger Kyle Steyn says that he and his team-mates will draw confidence from having toppled the English giants when the two sides met at Scotstoun three weeks ago.
“It’s obviously been a disrupted period for us these last couple of weeks, but there was a lot of emphasis against the Ospreys on trying to build on what we did against Exeter in our last game before the lay-off,” he said. “The fact there wasn’t any fans there, as well, made it a bit different. But I think we did well to adapt, and it was a good win for us in the end.
“We got some decent time with ball in hand, and also had to make some important defensive sets, so it was a good workout for us before Exeter.
“They’re at home and they will be hungry to put things right. For us, it’s just about taking the belief out of the previous game.
“That’s two positive results back-to-back we’ve now achieved – albeit three weeks apart – so it feels like there’s a bit more consistency around what we’re doing now. We’re a lot clearer about the type of performance we want to put in and where that minimum standard is. It feels like we’re heading in the right direction.”
A defeat next week at Exeter would not be a disaster for Warriors, but it would prick the bubble of belief which has grown around the squad recently, and also pile pressure onto the following weekend’s visit of La Rochelle – which would become a must-win match in terms of qualifying for the knock-out phase of the Champions Cup.
Sione Tuipulotu was named man-of-the-match on Saturday for an all-action display in which the highlights were two well-taken tries, and Steyn was full of praise for the impact the Australian-born, Scots-capped centre has had since joining the club in the summer.
“He’s such a great bloke – he’s fitted in seamlessly and is making a great impact,” said Steyn. “He talks a lot of rubbish sometimes which gets the boys giggling. We make sure that he knows he’s talking rubbish … but we all know the attributes he has as a player. He’s pretty much got the complete game.
“It’s great to see the new guys making such a great impact. The likes of Josh McKay [a full-back from New Zealand] as well, and we were also keen to see big Walt [Tongan winger Walter Fifita] with ball in hand when he came on.
“They are all fantastic players but also fantastic guys to have around in the environment every day.”
It is not just about the southern hemisphere imports. Homegrown youngster Rory Darge pushed Tuipulotu all the way for that man-of-the-match award on Saturday with yet another excellent all-round performance at open-side flanker, while Ross Thompson’s management of the game from stand-off was once again of the highest order.