DAVE RENNIE, being the perfectionist that he is, was quick to point out that his team’s one-sided victory over Ulster was not a complete performance.
The concession of three late tries gave the Northern Irishmen some respectability on the scoreboard which was hardly warranted on the basis of the general tenor of the whole match. But rather than being concerned by the slight dip at the end, the Kiwi coach believes it was the best possible preparation for next Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Grand Final against either Leinster or Munster.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “If we had won 50 to three or something like that then that wouldn’t be ideal preparation. It is a reminder that we’ve got to keep going to the last whistle. We just got a little bit tired and didn’t have the same sort of urgency in the last 10, but I don’t want to talk negatively about it because for 70 minutes we were pretty good.
“We got off to a flyer as we often do, so we got a bit of scoreboard pressure on them early, and with a bit of breeze behind us we were able to keep playing at the right end of the field and turn that pressure into more points.
“It’s funny because we’ve got 50 points on the board and we’re angry because of the way we finished the game, but for a big chunk of the game we were excellent – really clinical – turning defence into attack and scoring points from it.
“I think they are a better side than the scoreboard says,” he added. “We caught them on the hop and our set-piece has been pretty good. We’ve talked about being really clinical when we get opportunities. This side can score in a blink and then score another one within two blinks – whatever that means! I thought it was a pretty good performance, but we know we are going to have to step it up further for next week.”
Rennie wouldn’t be drawn on whether it was the team’s best performance during his two years at the helm. “It was a big occasion so what I’m rapt about is the fact that we went out and played like we normally play,” he replied.
“We were where we wanted to be: at home in front of our family and friends in a big semi-final was the goal that we set ourselves ten or 12 months ago. And we knew if we got it right, we had a chance to play at Celtic Park in front of hopefully a massive Glasgow crowd, so you can’t be nervous or anxious about that.
“We were excited, we had prepared well, we had clarity about what we were going to do, and the plan was just to get out and play.
“You can hear the crowd here it’s so close to the ground and there’s a potential that the noise could be deafening next week. The crowd are massive here, they’re really engaged, and the boys love it. I guess Ulster’s plan was to silence the crowd early, but we managed to score first and build from there, so we’d love to think we’re going to get a massive crowd next week.
Matt Fagerson was the official man-of-the-match, but such was the dominance of the home team’s performance that it could have been almost any of the 23 players involved.
“There were a lot of good performers,” said Rennie. “I’ll look at it in detail. I seldom agree with the man-of-the-match award, but when you score 50 points there’s a lot of big contributors. So, it’ll be someone in the dark who’s had their head buried all day and nobody notices them.”
Rennie added that there are no fresh injury concerns.
Meanwhile, Ulster head coach Dan McFarland took scant solace from the fact that he played a role in developing several members of the victorious team during his previous coaching stints with Warriors and Scotland.
“We were very disappointed because that was not our best performance,” he said. “But watching Glasgow, I’m not sure our best performance would have won here. That’s the best I’ve seen them play this season.
“I thought they were really good value for their win. Tactically, they were astute, physically on the money and excellent in terms of precision and accuracy.”