GLASGOW WARRIORS head coach Danny Wilson was understandably cautious when appraising his team’s performance after Saturday night’s 33-14 victory over Dragons. After all, it was at home in the United Rugby Championship against a team which had managed just one previous win this season going into the match. The next two weekends in the Champions Cup will be a different kettle of fish. 

However, Wilson was effusive when asked for his thoughts on the performance of Jack Dempsey, who rampaged 30-yards on a No 8 pick-up for the second of his team’s five tries and was named man-of-the-match after an energetic and abrasive all-round display.  

If Warriors are to upset the apple cart away to Stade Rochelais next Sunday, or at home to Exeter Chiefs the following Saturday, Wilson will be looking for more of the same from the Australian, who joined the club from the Waratahs during the summer. 

“I thought Jack was outstanding, and he’s been outstanding pretty much from the moment he arrived here,” said the coach.  “He’s exactly what we hoped he would be. What we signed was a powerful animal on both sides of the ball, with real rugby nous as well.  

“This was probably the best of those performances he’s put in for us so far. I’m really pleased with him and he’s a good example for the standard we want to be at.  

“He’s got plenty of edge. He only knows one gear. Even when we train ‘shoulders-on’, which means you make the initial shoulder contact but don’t finish it off … well, Jack doesn’t understand that, so it’s all or nothing as far as he is concerned.  

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“He doesn’t recognise anything else, and I like that about him. He’s raised the standards in training. So, hopefully he can keep going with all that good work he has done so far.” 

Wilson was also quietly encouraged by the performances of Kiwi full-back Josh McKay, on his long-awaited debut, and Argentinean winger Sebastian Cancelliere, who was making his first home appearance for the club. 

“Josh showed glimpses of what we have signed,” he said. “He made a try-saving tackle which was outstanding, and he also had a couple of line-breaks and other good moments in attack. He’s only been in the country two weeks so he’s settling in quickly. 

“Likewise, Sebastian got out there and looked good, and don’t forget we also brought Domingo Miotti [another Argentinean] off the bench at stand-off, so we’re hopefully going to have real competition for places there because I thought Ross Thompson was very good for us again this week. 

“There were a lot of positives for us from that Dragons game, but I also think there are still a lot of things to improve on moving forward.” 

Given that Stade Rochelais were beaten finalists in last season’s Champions Cup, while the Chiefs won the competition the season before that, those big improvements Wilson alludes to will need to materialise in quick order. 

The Chiefs match will be a particularly big occasion, with two former Scotstoun favourites in Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray – who made his first appearance of the season on Saturday following shoulder surgery in the summer – returning to their old stomping ground, opening up the tantalising prospect of Warriors second-row Richie Gray playing against his little brother for the first time. 

By their own high standards, the Chiefs have been below par so far this season, but their 18-15 win over arch-rivals Saracens on Saturday suggests that they have found their groove again. 

“The bar goes up now, doesn’t it?” acknowledged Wilson. “We’ve looked at La Rochelle over the past couple of days, and they are some team, packed with some star-studded individuals.  

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“Physically they are huge right throughout their team and there is a lot of power in there, so we need to match that and play a style of rugby that’s going to suit playing against the big teams.” 

Warriors scored five tries on Saturday throughout Sione Tuipulotu, Kyle Steyn, Dempsey, Ali Price and Johnny Matthews, with Thompson kicking four conversions. 

“If I’m brutally honest, I think there is a lot more to come from us because we were a little bit inaccurate at times,” said Wilson. “I think we had 17 turnovers which is way too high, so we have to improve that when we go to La Rochelle next week, and when Exeter Chiefs come here the week after that.”