Glasgow enjoyed a massive boost to their morale on Saturday when they beat Benetton 38-19 in the Pro14, but Dave Rennie is all too aware that they face a far stiffer test when Exeter Chiefs visit Scotstoun on Champions Cup duty this weekend.
The Warriors defended extremely well in Treviso to keep their Italian opponents at bay, then finished strongly with two tries in the last ten minutes, taking their overall tally to six. It will be a much-changed team who line up against the English side in five days’ time, including most of the star names who sat out the Italian trip, but Rennie believes they can take heart from the league result.
“We’ve played a lot of good footy over the last month or so, but we maybe haven’t been clinical enough when it mattered, or we’ve let in a couple of soft tries,” the head coach said. “I thought we were a lot better [against Benetton]. We had to defend, they asked a lot of questions, but I thought we looked after the ball well and it was really good to finish as strong as we did, put the foot on the throat.”
Glasgow will have to defend against the Chiefs at least as well as they did against Benetton, and they will also come up against a defence which is likely to be far tougher to break down. “They’re one of the best sides in Europe, aren’t they?,” Rennie added.
“We had a good look at their game against Saracens last week, where I thought defensively they were phenomenal. We’re going to throw everything at it. Obviously our loss to La Rochelle at home has put us under a bit of heat: we’ve got no option but to win, so we’ll throw everything at it.”
Tommy Seymour will return to the starting line-up provided he passes his cognitive test following concussion, while Jonny Gray should also be back to face the club he will join in the summer. Callum Gibbins and Matt Fagerson can also expect a recall to join Ryan Wilson in the back row, but that established trio are now facing competition from the likes of openside Tom Gordon and blindside Bruce Flockhart, with the latter having been especially impressive at the Stadio Monigo.“I thought Bruce was fantastic,” Rennie continued. “It’s been frustrating that we haven’t been able to get him on the field – he’s had a lot of injuries and a lot of niggles, so there have been precious few opportunities to play him in the last couple of years.
“He’s a beast of a man, he’s a really powerful athlete, and probably one of our best tacklers, so it was good to see him get out there, play 80 minutes, and have that sort of game.
“We talked a lot about the depth in the squad and we were really disappointed with how we started the campaign when we had a lot of guys at the World Cup. But [the Benetton win was] highlighted with the performances of some of those guys like Bruce, like Tom Gordon, who are guys that can put the pressure on the more seasoned veterans.”
George Horne, who scored two tries, will fight it out with Ali Price to be starting scrum-half, although Pete Horne, who totalled 13 points with a try and four conversions, is likely to give way at stand-off to Adam Hastings.
The Warriors’ other tries came from Sam Johnson, who opened the scoring in the third minute, and Niko Matawalu and Andrew Davidson, who put the icing on the cake with the two late tries.