"Massive end to the season" now the focus for Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow Warriors will look to take the learning points from their fortnight in South Africa and channel them into the closing stages of the season, as Head Coach Danny Wilson turned the focus to next weekend’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final clash with Lyon.
Despite taking an early lead, the Warriors ultimately succumbed to a 29-17 defeat at the hands of the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria, with a forward pass ultimately denying them even the consolation of a losing bonus-point from Loftus Versfeld.
With injuries to Rory Darge, Thomas Gordon and Fraser Brown also coming the Warriors’ way, Wilson admitted that the physicality of the home side caused his team problems under the Friday night lights.
“If I’m honest, we got taught a lesson in physicality out there,” said Wilson post-match.
“That led to us coming second in all of the physical facets of the game, and they were far better on that level than we were.
“We were hurt by that and we couldn’t get on the front foot because of that. On top of that, the injuries we took throughout that game hit us, and we were a bit disjointed as a result of that.
“The Stormers and the Bulls are probably the two form teams in the URC right now, and to play them back to back has been a massive challenge for the boys. Currently in the schedule, the South African teams have home game after home game, which allows them to build momentum.
“The boys will learn from the experience of the last fortnight, and we’re by no means the only team to have found it difficult to come out here. It’s a big challenge and one we’ll take a lot of learnings from, and the next time we come out here we’ll be ready to put those learnings into action.”
Even on a tough night on the high veldt, the Glasgow boss was pleased with some of the signs showed by his side early on, in addition to their late rally in the face of a powerful Bulls pack.
“We started the game well and were rewarded with the penalty try, and I thought we were unlucky not to score a couple more,” said Wilson.
“The physicality at times drained us, and that had the knock-on effect of not allowing us to get pace into our game.
“We gave away too many penalties as we looked to deal with the physicality, and that meant they could piggy-back those penalties together and get field position.
“We didn’t take enough points from our visits to the Bulls 22, and that came back to bite us in the end.”
The Round 18 trip to Edinburgh now holds even further significance for Wilson’s side, with the Warriors likely to require a victory in order to guarantee both a place in the playoffs and Heineken Champions Cup qualification.
With next weekend’s trip to Lyon also looming large on the horizon in just a week’s time, the men from Scotstoun know that there will be no time to lick their wounds ahead of a massive month of rugby.
“We’ve now got a huge game to finish the season in the 1872 Cup derby at BT Murrayfield, which now has so much riding on it,” admitted Wilson.
“We’ll head home, we’ll assess where we are and we’ll hit straight back into the Challenge Cup quarter-final this weekend, because we have to pick ourselves up.
“We still have the chance to end the season on the front foot, and it’s one we want to take.”