GLASGOW Warriors are taking a lot longer this season to secure a place in the PRO14 play-offs than they did last year, but they look in far better shape as the business end of the campaign approaches.

In 2017-18 they were safe home with months to spare, but lost their way, lost four matches towards the end of the regular season, then lost at home to Scarlets in the semi-final. This time round they appear to have found form at the right time, having recovered from a run of three league defeats over the festive period to record four successive wins since.

Having gleaned another five points from their 43-17 victory over Connacht on Friday night, they are now all but assured of a place in the semi-finals, with the only real remaining question being whether they go into the last four as winners or as runners-up to Munster in Conference A. Two wins from their last five games will be the most they need for a top-two finish, and while they have a tough run-in they should manage that all right: after visiting Zebre next weekend they are at home to the Cheetahs and Ulster, then visit Leinster before finishing off back at home with the third 1872 Cup match of the season.

Their current form is all the more impressive given the number of players absent on Scotland duty or through injury, and testifies to the greater quality that now runs throughout the squad. “We’ve got a lot of depth, and a lot of competition for places, and I think you see that on nights like this when guys get a chance to step up - there are big performances,” Rob Harley said after the six-try win over Connacht. “It was a really good team performance.

“We’re happy with the scoreline, but it probably flatters us a little bit,” the forward added. “Connacht had chances that they didn’t take, and although we maybe left a wee bit out there, we were pretty clinical. That scoreline doesn’t do them justice, and it was closer than it seemed.”

The Warriors defence deserves some of the credit for the Irish team’s failure to convert some of their opportunities into scores, although Harley accepted that his team maybe played a bit too much off the cuff at times when a more structured game would have given them greater control.

“There was going to be times when it got loose. Defensively we would have wanted to tighten up a little bit, but it was difficult - they’re a dangerous side. I think looking back on it we’ll look at where we could maybe have controlled the tempo a wee bit better. We tried to play from very deep at times, and sometimes that came off and sometimes it didn’t.”