For our two professional clubs, it looked at one time that both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby might end the season on a crescendo.

Now thank to the results against Lions and Munster respectively at the weekend, it seems that they may both finish the United Rugby Championship season on what a music-loving friend termed as a diminuendo or decrescendo – or a bum note, as I might say.

I wrote last week that I thought they would both win, and at one time during both matches I was pretty sure they could do so. When Edinburgh went 16-10 up in the first half, I guessed Munster would fight back not least because they knew a win might send them top of the table, but the home defence had been quite resolute and I felt they might just see out the victory It wasn’t to be.

Edinburgh bravely went for a line-out rather than kick a late penalty, but at least they got a losing bonus point and that might well be crucial when the final points are tallied. Now all they have to do is go to Italy and beat Benetton a week on Saturday.

I say ‘all’. In the race for the final play-off places, it is quite remarkable that the three teams from seventh to ninth are all on the same points with just one round to go. Edinburgh, Benetton and Lions all have 49 points and while theoretically tenth-placed Connacht and Ospreys in 11th could figure in the carve-up, they have to visit Leinster and Cardiff respectively, so the focus will be on the match in Italy between Benetton and Edinburgh.

The side that wins this match is guaranteed to finish in the top eight, regardless of what happens between Stormers and Lions, with all the rewards that will bring. For Edinburgh, that would be a place in the quarter-finals which had looked a real possibility for them during the season, but now it comes down to a single game away to a Benetton side who are nobody’s pushovers.

I still don’t believe how Glasgow lost against the Lions in Johannesburg. Leading and with Lions down a man, the Warriors somehow concocted a frankly dreadful second-half performance, though great credit to Lions for that scintillating burst of four tries in ten minutes or so.

At least the Warriors have qualified for the quarter-finals and will have a home tie in that match. They are also at home in their final match of the URC regular season, against Zebre Parma a week on Friday at 7.35pm.

It’s not a dead rubber as Warriors will want to finish as high up the table as possible, but it would require a sensational series of results elsewhere for Glasgow to improve their position to top the table again. Franco Smith’s men will want to put on a show for their fans, however, and with Zebre looking firmly anchored to bottom of the URC, a win and a four try bonus point is the least the Scotstoun faithful can expect.

Intriguingly, if Edinburgh can win and finish seventh and Glasgow can improve up to second place – unlikely but possible – the two sides could meet at Scotstoun in the quarter-finals. Now that would be the match of this or any other season.

I can’t close this week’s column without paying tribute to Sean Maitland who has announced his retirement from playing at the age of 35. Born in New Zealand, Maitland’s grandparents were Glaswegian emigres, and the player recalled how often his grandfather reminded him of his Scottish ancestry.

Thank you to that grandfather for Maitland, who had played for New Zealand at age grades and for New Zealand Māori, had no hesitation when Glasgow Warriors came calling for him in 2012 after his success in Super Rugby with Canterbury and Crusaders. It was only a few months later that he made his debut for Scotland, scoring a try in the 2013 Six Nations match against England at Twickenham.

Either at winger or full-back, Maitland was an exciting player to watch, defensively solid and always willing to race into attack. He would go on to play 53 times for Scotland, scoring 15 tries in all, including the try against England at Murrayfield in 2018 when he finished off a wonderful Scotland end-to-end move.

He was desperately unlucky not to become a full British and Irish Lion on their tour of his native New Zealand in 2013 when he was named on the bench for one test but did not get on.

I remember him playing for Warriors when he was often the best player afield, but he was also ambitious and went south to London Irish in 2015 before finding his natural home at Saracens where he is still going strong after nearly 150 appearances, and with his club in the Premiership play-off semi-final he hopes to add to his collection of winners’ medals.

I just always thought of Sean Maitland as a quality player, and hope he enjoys his retirement.