Glasgow Warriors perfectly poised for final push

Glasgow assistant coach Kenny Murray is hoping that the Guinness Pro12 champions have once again timed their run down the home straight to perfection.

Kenny Murray says Glasgow believe they can win all three of their remaining games, which would guarantee a play-off place. Picture: SNS
Kenny Murray says Glasgow believe they can win all three of their remaining games, which would guarantee a play-off place. Picture: SNS

With three games left in the regular season the Warriors have worked themselves into third place, within striking distance of the all-important top-two which would give them a home semi-final.

Gregor Townsend’s men next face Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday and his assistant believes the back-to-back wins at Treviso and Zebre have been the perfect way to set up a strong finish to the season.

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“I think the two games in Italy were a really positive part of the season for us,” said former Ayr coach Murray.

“We set ourselves some goals of doing well over there, but we didn’t talk too much about bonus points, just about performing well. So we are really pleased with getting two bonus-point wins which has put us right back in the mix, just two points off the top, three games to go and all to play for.”

Glasgow have developed a welcome habit of being strong finishers in recent seasons and Murray said: “This year has been a difficult one being a World Cup season as well, we’ve had to make a lot of changes as we’ve gone on.

“Now we’re getting guys back and building consistency and performance. The one thing that sticks out for me was the Leinster game here [a 12-6 win last month]. A lot of the guys playing that day were what you might call fringe players, younger players: those guys really put a performance in that day and that for me could be one of our best of the season, getting four points from that game.

“Gregor says that a lot, it’s a squad not a team, and at the end of the season whatever happens it’ll be a squad that gets us there, whether they be established international players or the younger players who took part in that Leinster game.”

Leinster, who host Edinburgh tomorrow, and Connacht, who Glasgow travel to in the last round, are both on 63 points, with the champions on 61, but Murray says securing the top-four spot and a play-off remains the first priority before ensuring it is a home game at Scotstoun.

“The target’s always to get in the top four, obviously. We can only do what we can in the next three games about winning games, some of it may be outwith our control, it will depend on how Leinster do as well. It would be great to get a home semi-final, it gives you that extra advantage: home crowd, home surface.

“We’ll be striving to do that: we have three games left and we believe we can win all three, and win them well. We’ll be trying as hard as we can.”

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Fourth-placed Scarlets, of course, have plenty to play for and will be eyeing the three-point gap that separates them from Glasgow. They slumped to a home loss to Cardiff in their last league game and will be out to make amends.

“Scarlets have had an excellent season, as everyone knows,” said Murray.

“They’re playing some 
really good rugby, a lot of exciting rugby throughout the 

The Welsh side have former Warriors DTH van der Merwe and John Barclay, and have been familiar opponents this season after being drawn in Glasgow’s European pool.

Both those games were won by the Scots but they lost the home league match during the World Cup period. Murray said: “We’ve seen them a lot this year having played them on a number of occasions so we know what they’re about, we know their strengths and weaknesses and we’ll be sure to give everything from the game down there.

“You always look to take positives from your wins. Obviously [in Europe] it was a tight game there at 9-6 so there were things in there.

“We knew how difficult it was going to be, how much hard work was needed to be done well.”

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Townsend will name his team for the trip to south Wales tomorrow.