THE ideal is that a team plays at the top of its game every time it takes the field. The reality is that every side falls well short of its own standards on occasion - and for Glasgow, last month’s heavy defeat by Benetton was certainly one of those occasions.

Once such a calamitous event has happened, all you can do is bounce back as quickly and vigorously as possible, and the Warriors have certainly done that since, winning their two subsequent matches to take themselves into contention for a place in the Rainbow Cup final. The odds are still stacked against them - even beating the Dragons tomorrow [Sat] then Leinster next weekend might not be enough to get them there - but those back-to-back wins over Edinburgh have at least given them something to play for.

Scott Cummings, for one, is eager to end an inconsistent season on a high. The lock sat out the 46-19 loss in Treviso because of injury, but felt it easy to empathise with his team-mates as they turned in their worst performance of the campaign. Fit again now and likely to be selected to start against the Dragons, the Scotland lock believes the beating by Benetton has galvanised Glasgow, giving them the motivation they needed to get back to something a lot closer to their best form.  

“We’re excited,” he said as he looked forward to the match in Cardiff. “That first game against Treviso wasn’t what we wanted, but we’ve at least had a good response to that and now find ourselves in a pretty good position up near the top of the table, so we’re just focusing on the next two games and seeing where that takes us.

“After that Treviso game we were pretty embarrassed with the performance as a whole, so I think we just wanted to gain a bit of respect back more than anything. We all have bad days. 

“It’s tough, because you know that the guys didn’t go out there to put that performance in. The guys were pumped up for that game.  

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“You definitely do feel for guys when things just aren’t going your way on the day, and the performance just wasn’t there. It is obviously easy to say when you aren’t playing. But that wasn’t the standard we aspire to. 

“I think it did give us that reality check, that there is a lot more we can do on and off the pitch just to improve our performances a wee bit, so it definitely gave us that kick to change a couple of wee things. It wasn’t any massive changes, just simplifying a few things and focusing on a few other things, which seems to have boosted us in the last couple of weeks.” 

There was a time when a visit to the Dragons would have been expected to produce an almost effortless win for the Warriors, but the Welsh team’s significant improvement this season has already seen them claim two wins over Danny Wilson’s team - once at home and once at Scotstoun. With just one victory from their three Rainbow Cup matches so far, they are out of the running for a place in the final, but Cummings still expects them to provide tough opposition.  

 “If you look at the quality of player that they [Dragons] have these days, they are a good team. Gone are the days you would massively expect a win against the Dragons.  

“They are a very good team now, so we know it is going to be a good challenge.  Obviously, having lost to them the last two games, we want to put the record straight with a better performance this time.”

The one-point defeat at Scotstoun back in December is a result which particularly rankles with the Warriors, not only because it was a match they should have won, but because of the way in which the visitors celebrated Brandon Thomson’s last-minute conversion miss. The stand-off has since moved on, but some of the ill feeling remains after several Dragons players patted him on the head in mocking fashion as the full-time whistle blew, giving them a 23-22 victory. Cummings is far too composed an individual to admit to something like that getting under his skin, but there is no doubt that he and his team-mates feel they have a point to prove tomorrow.

“It’s not really been spoken about much,” he said of the way in which that game concluded. “It’s probably more that we’ve lost the last two games to them. That sticks with you. 

“We’ve had two good games against Edinburgh and are happy with how we are starting to play. Dragons are similar to Edinburgh with a big forward pack who will look to win the game upfront first. So we’ve a couple of things we’re really focusing on to deal with that.”