DANNY WILSON has shrugged off doubts about whether Glasgow Warriors are stagnating under his stewardship.
The coach says he understands – and shares – the frustration which was expressed by some fans on social media following last weekend’s frustrating away defeat to Benetton, when a two-point lead was thrown away by the concession of three needless penalties during the final minute and a half. But he insists that he is satisfied with the club’s general direction of travel.
“We’re 50 percent this season with three good wins and three losses, two of them against big Irish provinces,” reasoned the Warriors coach. “This one was disappointing as we lost a game we should have won.
“Closing out a game is part of the learnings. As a group we’re still building and taking steps forward. There will be tight last-minute games that we win and some that we lose, but we lost this one from our own poor management and discipline, so this is a bump in the road.
“I’m not going to get carried away from one game,” he continued. “We went there last year, and they put 40 points on us. We were awful. It’s a tough venue to go and win, and now both us and Edinburgh have lost there by a point.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t go there expecting to win. I’m as disappointed as anyone that we didn’t manage that last weekend but until then our win ratio from the Rainbow Cup onwards was far more positive than it was before.
“We’re making steps in the right direction. We’ve got new signings and new opportunities. Had we won last weekend we would have been third or fourth in the league. Now we’re in mid-table and we want to be up in that top four.”
Doubts have been expressed about whether the softly spoken coach is the right man to instil the ruthless edge that top teams need to see out matches, but Wilson insisted that he has no problem taking the kid gloves off when it is the right thing to do.
“There’s a time and a place for the hard talk, for the emotional side to come out and to express how you feel,” he explained. “Calling players out is still a part of the game but there’s a way of doing it in the modern era that keeps the players tight as a group.
“After the game [on Saturday] was probably the most passionate after-match conversation that I’ve given,” he added. “I made my feelings pretty clear because we’re way better than that. We have enough maturity and leadership on the field to put that game away.
“That last 90 seconds is still really frustrating for all of us. We had the ball inside their 22 with a two-point lead – we have to see that out and win the game. Win ugly maybe. But through a severe lack of game management and discipline we get marched down the field and lose three penalties and the game.
“On Monday we analysed the game as normal and looked at those 90 seconds because we have to take the learnings from that. But the emotional bit was after the game. The more controlled analysis was on Monday.”
Warriors will look to put things right when the Dragons visit Scotstoun on Saturday evening. Wilson said that some players who got significant game time for Scotland during the Autumn Test Series are likely to be rested, and he indicated that Scott Cummings is still struggling with a shoulder injury picked up playing against Japan a fortnight ago.
On the flip side, Lions pair Ali Price and Zander Fagerson will come back into the selection mix after being given last weekend off, while back-three man Josh McKay could be in line for his first outing in Warriors colours after arriving from his native New Zealand just under a fortnight ago.
“We’ve had some good battles with the Dragons recently,” concluded Wilson. “Last season we had a good bonus point win down there and we know what it took to get that.
“I expect a few internationals to come back to play for them, but it’s a home game against a side below us in the league. We won’t take them lightly as they’re an improved side in recent years, but we’ll be aiming and expecting to win.”