Sean Lineen looking for Glasgow consistency to slay the Dragons

SCOTLAND'S uplifting win against Ireland at the end of the RBS Six Nations Championship is now long gone, but the same test faces the Scottish players involved in Dublin as the Magners League heads to its climax.

In a word it comes down to consistency. Andy Robinson, the Scotland coach, had a clear message when he spoke with the media amidst the hangover of a Sunday morning in the Irish capital – the key to a more meaningful improvement in Scottish rugby rested with the ability of leading players to return to their clubs, learn the lessons of a frustrating championship and consistently apply them.

While Edinburgh escaped a below-par display with victory over the Scarlets, the failure of Glasgow players to adhere to that demand was clearer in defeat on return to Ireland and their first league match at Munster. Sean Lineen, the Glasgow coach, has to weigh up the fact there is an inevitable drop in intensity and focus when a Six Nations finishes with maintaining high standards.

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The 27-19 loss to Munster might not seem a huge blow, but he knew his team had Munster there for the taking and analysis of the mistakes made that handed the Irishmen their tries, has only increased the frustration ahead of Sunday's return to Firhill, and a match-up with a Dragons side who have won their last five league matches up here. He said: "The game last week against Munster we knew would be a tough game, with a fantastic atmosphere, but looking back on it we know we could have won it. The two tries they scored were very soft and these are mistakes we can't afford to make.

"But, in saying that, the Dragons are most probably the best team we could play against now because they are the one team that will take incredible satisfaction from beating us on our own patch, such is the healthy rivalry we have with them, and they are certainly one of the form teams in the Magners League. They have known very little disruption through the Six Nations and have that consistency and continuity, and you can see that in their performance. They have been very energetic, aggressive and come away with some cracking wins. So this game should concentrate the minds like no other."

Glasgow are without Chris Cusiter, the scrum-half having a calf strain which Lineen said was probably a hangover from the Six Nations, and Bath-bound Mark McMillan returns. With wing resources severely stretched, Colin Shaw returns from sevens duty, Fergus Thomson is back at hooker for Dougie Hall and Kevin Tkachuk replaces Jon Welsh, the prop ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his leg. Significantly, captain Al Kellock returns from a shoulder injury he suffered against Ireland, and he shares his coach's sense of frustration, after watching last week's loss. "Both teams had a similar game-plan last week, playing for territory," Kellock said, "but they were just a bit more clinical when they got into the right areas and credit to the way Ronan O'Gara kicked. At 20-18 and with the wind at our backs I thought we could go on and win it, but we lost the ball in our 22 and they went and scored. That was the turning point in the game. We were putting them under pressure because it was very difficult for them to get out of their 22, because of the way the wind had picked up in the second half.

"And mistakes and cheap turnovers have cost us against the Dragons. They are a team playing good rugby and with confidence, and they are battling for a top-four place as well, so we have to play to the best of our ability.

"They have been tough for us, but their performances against every team in the league (this season] has been top-class. I've watched their game with the Ospreys time and time again and they dominated what was a very good set of forwards in that Ospreys team. They are very good up front, do their basics well and are very aggressive, and we have to make sure we match it.

"Tom Willis (captain and former All Blacks hooker] has made a massive difference. It has built up over the past two seasons, but in the last four or five months consistently they have been as good as I've ever seen them. They are extremely dangerous on the counter-attack now, have a back three that can create tries from very little. We know we can't afford to make those mistakes or they will get tries."

It is a key game with the Dragons just a point behind Glasgow, who are in the last of four play-off spots. With three of their remaining four games at home, Glasgow have a good chance to secure a play-off spot, but with the Ospreys also a point behind and a game in hand, they will likely have to win every game, and claim bonus points to turn it into reality.