HOLIDAYS always feel better if you leave your work on a high note, and both Glasgow and Edinburgh did exactly that at the weekend in their last outings before the United Rugby Championship’s mid-term break.

The Warriors racked up the bigger tally, beating Benetton 37-0 at home, but in a league where away victories are a very valuable commodity Edinburgh arguably had a more impressive result, winning 25-17 at Cardiff. But the bottom line is that both teams can take considerable satisfaction from those performances, especially as they were without so many leading players because of international duty.

Glasgow, who have a game in hand on most of the teams above them, are now seventh in the 16-team table. They have won their three home games and lost three on the road, so there are no prizes for guessing where head coach Franco Smith thinks the improvement needs to come.

“It’s special to play at Scotstoun,” the South African said after Friday night’s victory when asked to analyse the discrepancy between home and away results. “The guys know the environment, they love the support, and they love to play in front of the crowd.

“I think away from home we came up against difficult situations and it was managed wrong. Now we’ve still got to grow that character – even if it’s managed wrong, how do we get back from two scores down? I honestly think it’s a mentality thing more than it’s a coaching or a technical thing or a game plan.”

Smith, appointed in August, only had one warm-up match, against the semi-pro Ayrshire Bulls, in which to prepare his team for the new URC campaign. That led to an undercooked display in the opening league fixture, a 33-11 defeat by Benetton in Treviso, but the coach is convinced that his team have learned a lot since then.

“The squad could not have understood what the intent from my side was until we had played,” he explained. “And I think with the video material from that Benetton game we were able to show them where the opportunities lay and what we wanted, and they embraced that against Cardiff [in their next game, which they won 52-24]. Now the players know exactly what areas of the game we are working at.”

Having expressed his satisfaction with that improvement, however, Smith insisted his team still have a long way to go if they are to progress from play-off hopefuls to title contenders. “We left four or five tries out there against Benetton [on Friday]. We got nought from five entries in the first 20 minutes, which could already have broken the camel’s back.

“There are a lot of execution errors to deal with – those errors cost us and we can’t allow that if we want to be a Leinster, for example. This is just the beginning, hopefully.”

Smith will have a chance to measure his team’s progress against the unbeaten league leaders in Dublin when the URC resumes on Saturday 26, while Edinburgh visit Benetton on the same day in their first match back. Two places and seven points ahead of their Scottish rivals, Mike Blair’s side have four wins from their seven games, two of them away. They have also earned losing bonus points in South Africa against the Bulls and at home to the Lions, leaving the head coach relatively pleased with their showing so far.

“I think I’m reasonably happy,” he said after Sunday’s win at the Arms Park. “It’s one of those ones – if you’d been given this at the start of the season, you probably would have taken it. But at the same time, as we sit where we are, I’m thinking: ‘God, that Lions game, we let that one slip’. Or had we seen out the last five minutes of the Bulls game, where would we have been?

“But at the same time we’ve played some good rugby. I think our performances have been consistent. Obviously the last 10 or 15 minutes against the Lions could have gone better, but I think in terms of what we’re putting on the pitch we’re finding a level of consistency, which is great.”

After going behind and losing Charlie Savala to the sinbin in the last minute of the first half in the Welsh capital, Edinburgh were faced with exactly the kind of test of character of which Smith spoke. They passed it, too, showing patience and maturity to solve the things that had gone wrong in the first half.

“We talked a lot about just being calm in every moment, and trusting in the process,” man of the match Chris Dean said. “Trusting that we’re a good team, trusting the individuals around you to do their jobs to the best of their ability. And it felt like that on the pitch: everyone was calm, collected, knew their roles, knew their jobs, and then executed them. Which is what we’re looking for as a team.”