Glasgow finished the regular Guinness Pro14 season by failing to win in their last five away games but their home record remained formidable and it is there they return for Friday’s semi-final showdown with reigning champions Scarlets.
With the sound of final touches to instal the temporary stands which will raise the Scotstoun capacity to 10,000 clanging in the background, coach Dave Rennie insisted that a home Pro14 record that is close to absolutely perfect this season will fuel confidence that the club can reach their third final in the competition and have a shot at a second title in Dublin a week on Saturday.
The stuttering end to the season, followed by a three-week lay-off, has many worried that Glasgow may struggle to suddenly find again the level of performance needed to see off a side who became the first to win an away semi-final when they beat Leinster in Dublin on their way to the title last year.
Rennie, however, was a picture of calm. “There’s no doubt that statistically we’ve been really strong at home in this comp. We’ve had ten games here for ten wins and nine bonus points – 49 out of 50 points – and we haven’t conceded anything here. No team has left with a bonus of any description.
“That’s a hell of a record. It gives us confidence, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.
“We know Scarlets are a quality side, defending champions, and I’d imagine they’ll be pretty highly motivated. I think it will make for a really high-quality encounter. They have a positive mindset and so have we.”
Rennie was equally confident that the three weeks between that 1872 Cup loss to Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield and Friday evening have been managed well.“I suppose it will tell on Friday. We have used the time very well,” said the coach. “We gave the boys a pretty tough first week. We gave them three days off the second week and got a good head start on the Thursday, Friday knowing it was going to be Scarlets. This week is about fine tuning and making sure we have a full tank for the weekend.
“We are as fit as. The boys are in good nick. We are excited. It is where we want to be, at home in a semi-final. It is what we talked about 11 months ago but you start from scratch again from now.
“The mindset has been great. We are rapt to still be in the race. There are ten teams [now out of contention] who are probably drinking a fair bit of alcohol this week so yeah, the heads are good and the bodies are good. We have to put that on the park at the weekend.”
Glasgow will hope their post-season party doesn’t get going until a week on Saturday, ideally with champagne, but Rennie insisted that fun had played its part in the long build-up to Friday’s big game to avoid a pressure-cooker situation.
Rennie said: “The boys did a bit of paintballing. We had our awards night which was a lot of fun and we had a bit of a golf thing. There is a lot of work done but we made sure we had a lot of fun in amongst it. We enjoy each other’s company and that has to be reflected on Friday night. We had a fair bit of fun this morning prior to the defence preview. You have to enjoy what you do. If we as coaches start tensing up at a big moment the boys will pick up on that. It is pretty similar to what it has been all year.
“We are not trying to do anything different for play-offs. We have to get the heads right and the minds right and hopefully the bodies can do the job.”
Rennie, meanwhile, expressed delight at Leinster’s European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92 at the weekend. “The good thing about our comp is that it is more positive. Three of the four sides in [Champions Cup] semis from the Pro14 is a positive indicator. I know [Leinster coach] Leo [Cullen] well so I’m rapt for him and it’s great for this comp.”