WHILE the international contingent in the Glasgow Warriors squad will have the opportunity to turn their focus this week towards next Saturday’s Autumn Test series opener against Tonga at Murrayfield, the rest of the group face a five week wait until they can attempt to exorcise the demons of Friday night’s 31-15 home defeat to Leinster. 

There is certainly no shame in that margin of loss to a team of the calibre of the Dubliners, chock-a-block with international experience and chasing a fifth consecutive league title, but it is the type of set-back which can gnaw away at confidence if allowed to fester. 

So, it was no surprise to hear co-captain Ryan Wilson – who is one of life’s optimists – work hard to put a positive spin on what had just happened when he spoke immediately after the game on Friday evening. 

“It is not a disaster but if you compare it man for man, we should have a good enough team to beat them,” he said. “We showed that last year when we went out and rolled them over in the Rainbow Cup. 

“Especially in front of a packed crowd at Scotstoun on a Friday night, we wanted to come away with more than just 15 points – we wanted to a win. 

“I think it is a good way to look at it because it means this squad won’t accept playing at a level below where we know we should be at. 

“If we had played the best we possibly could play and come up that short then I would be worried, but I don’t think that is the case.” 

Warriors had gone into this game on a high having picked up 15 league points from a possible 20 in their first four matches of this United Rugby Championship campaign. They were slightly unlucky not to secure a win away to Ulster in round one but did enough to return from Belfast with two bonus points. They then built momentum with three wins on the bounce against the Sharks, the Lions and Zebre – but this was a big step up which they struggled to cope with. 

Leinster demonstrated that they are a very different proposition when valuable league points are at stake, compared to a meaningless end-of-season hit-out as was the case when they lost 15-12 to Warriors back in June. 

Their physicality was relentless, meaning Warriors had to work extremely hard for the two tries they managed to get, through No8 Jack Dempsey in the last play of the first half, and through replacement second-row Lewis Bean in the last play of the second half, by which point the game was dead. 

Leinster, meanwhile, had little difficulty holding onto the ball for as many phases as required, waiting for a chink to open up in the home team’s exhausted defensive wall which they could exploit. 

“We were slow out of the blocks and let them get on the front foot, and if you do that against any good team – and especially a team like Leinster who are used to winning – then you are in for a tough night,” reasoned Wilson. 

“It’s about momentum, and we couldn’t generate the quick ball you need to get on the front foot. We also weren’t physical enough in defence.” 

Wilson added that the non-Scotland players in the squad will make sure that the month off they now face won’t be wasted time. 

 “We’ll have a week of rest then we’ll come back in and have three weeks of almost like pre-season, so there will be plenty of work to be done there,” he said. “We have two massive games coming up as soon as the international window is over against Benetton and Dragons, which we need to win to keep ourselves in the top four. 

“The target is to make the play-offs and one game against Leinster doesn’t change that.”