Glasgow Warriors must address set-piece failings in Italy

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In the past and under different circumstances a game at Treviso, now Benetton Rugby, would have been viewed as an ideal breather between the intensity of an 1872 Cup double header and the resumption of white-hot European action.

On the back of a couple of bruising defeats to their Scottish rivals and given the improvements the Italian side have shown this season, however, Glasgow lock Tim Swinson knows it will be no rest for the wicked as the Warriors try to re-emerge from a mini-slump in the Guinness Pro14 this weekend.

Glasgow Warriors' Tim Swinson in the thick of the action against Edinburgh at Scotstoun. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

Glasgow Warriors' Tim Swinson in the thick of the action against Edinburgh at Scotstoun. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

“Benetton have been a really good side over the last 12 to 18 months and they are well organised with a good quality forward pack so it will be a very good test ahead of two games in Europe against two more strong forward packs,” he said of the challenge that awaits on Saturday before Dave Rennie’s men can focus on the visit of Cardiff and trip to Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup.

“It is coming thick and fast for us at the moment, but that is what professional rugby is and we are playing in two of the best competitions in the world at the moment in the Pro14 and the Champions Cup,” he added.

“I don’t think it is giving them enough credit, that just because we have lost a couple [against Edinburgh] it is a bigger game. They are a quality side as you have seen from watching them and the results they have had over the last 18 months.

“The way they have played, they deserve to be respected as a team themselves never mind whether we have won some or lost some leading into it.

“We know it will be a tough game and when you have lost a game you always want to bounce back with a win.”

A tough game in itself for sure against a side who now lie third in Conference B, but there is no denying that Glasgow will be carrying a bit of additional baggage on the flight to Italy following the wake-up call of back-to-back defeats in the festive derbies.

“Fair play to them they stuck to their game plan, but for us we are more frustrated about the things that didn’t go well,” said Swinson of the Edinburgh wins. “We weren’t beaten by a team that were exceptional, they were just doing exactly what they were supposed to do in the right way.”

The foundation of that, in both games, was Edinburgh’s utter domination of the set-piece, which the 31-year-old admitted had provided food for thought.

“Set-piece is something that we will look at during the week and really try and improve on,” he said. “It is a situation where we have got a few guys switching in and out and I know that is not really an excuse, but again we have got to get better at that.

“That is our job to fix things, you go through it all the time. You get patches where you can’t do anything right and then magically the next week you can do everything right and you don’t know what the worry was all about, but that is rugby.

“The scrum seems a bit of an art where nobody has a clue what is going on. It didn’t go our way, but we definitely have guys who know what they are talking about in front of me. I just put my head in there and push and hopefully we’ll get some answers after a tough day at the office.”

But Edinburgh were also superior to Glasgow in open play over the two games, which the 38-times capped forward conceded.

“I mean they have got a great back-row, Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie are both quality back-row players while Bill Mata speaks for himself as well,” said Swinson.

“So we knew it was going to be a tough day at the breakdown and I think we did deal with it well for a lot of the game, but there were messy breakdowns and when you are wanting to play quickly that is not always the best thing.”

There were a few tetchy moments over the 160 minutes of civil war between Scotland’s two pro teams, which Swinson views as par for the course.

“You get that a lot in these kind of games. A lot of the guys have played international, age group and even school rugby together,” he said.

“There is that closeness which means that it is always better to get one over on your mate, and unfortunately I think sometimes some of that boiled over, but I think it was good for a bit of togetherness.”