GIVEN their history in recent years of producing high-octane, breath-taking carnivals of running rugby, Sunday night’s 20-7 victory for Glasgow Warriors over the Scarlets at an empty Scotstoun Stadium will not be remembered as a classic – but in terms of the metamorphosis the team is trying to complete under the stewardship of new head coach Danny Wilson, this could be a pivotal moment. 

There has been a suspicion in the past that Warriors are nice to watch and nice to play against, capable of sublime moments of attacking rugby, but also just as likely to cough up easy points to undermine all their good work.  On this occasion, they dug deep during the final 20 minutes to hold on for a convincing win against first-rate opposition, despite the fact that they went badly off the boil around the hour point. 

The mark of a consistently successful team is not what they achieve when they are playing well, but what they manage when they are not playing well. Wilson and his coaching team will be desperate to see Warriors produce a bit more of their old sparkle sooner rather than later, but they will also be encouraged by how they dug deep to ensure that Scarlets didn’t ever get within touching distance of the win. 

“It’s massive,” said man-of-the-match Rob Harley, who took over the captaincy of the side during that last 10 minutes, and led by example with one particularly important turnover when it looked like Scarlets were set to power their line-out maul over the whitewash. “We were talking about it in the week leading up, that we’d done a lot of good things but it was important to get that win. I’m glad we managed to get it. 

“It was absolutely exhausting. Scarlets threw everything at us and it’s taken top-quality defence from us in the second half to hold them out."

“I think the main thing was patience,” he replied, when asked about what the key had been to Warriors’ victory over a team they had manage to beat only once in the last six meetings between the two sides. 

“We showed a lot of patience in attack, because they’re a hard team to break down. First half we played phases, we stayed ready and willing to play the ball and we got rewarded. Then in defence, it wasn’t perfect, we made some mistakes, but for the amount of time we had to defend on our own line, we showed incredible heart.” 

Bear in mind, this was the first win by either of the two Scottish pro teams in the fourth game played this season, so it was a significant confidence boost going into an international window in which 14 Warriors players (including Harley) will be away for the vast majority of the time.  

It is possible that some of those players will be released back to the club over the course of the next eight weeks, but given the challenges involved in protecting the integrity of team bubbles, and the unhelpful nature of the Warriors fixture schedule which sees them play five of the next six games up to the end of November on either a Sunday or Monday, the flow of players back and forward between club and national squads is not likely to be as slick as we were used to in the pre-Covid era. 

Harley has been in good form since Warriors came out of lockdown, but not at a level beyond what we have come to expect from the 30-year-old who is arguably the most consistent professional player in Scottish rugby. His national team call-up perhaps says more about how head coach Gregor Townsend has become more pragmatic since last year’s World Cup flop, with breakdown specialists and players who are generally good at making a nuisance of themselves in the contact zone coming back into fashion