DANNY WILSON believes his Glasgow Warriors squad has made undeniable progress this season but acknowledges that their away form is a lingering concern and something which needs to be addressed immediately if they are to have any chance of competing for silverware at the end of the campaign. 

Warriors failed to make it into the last 16 of the Heineken Champions Cup but have been given a second bite at the European cherry as one of six teams from that top tier competition to be parachuted into the second tier Challenge Cup. They now face Newcastle Falcons away on Friday night with a spot in the quarterfinals up for grabs. 

It is a golden opportunity against a side which currently sits third bottom of the English Premiership with six wins and a draw from 20 games played, and who struggled to see off struggling Zebre in their final Challenge Cup pool match last weekend. However, Wilson stressed that his team will not be taking anything for granted. 

“We’re now moving into the business end of the season, and I could talk about the improvements we’ve made,” he said. “We’ve now been a top four side [in the United Rugby Championship] for the majority of the season, and in the league, we’ve had a brilliant home record, winning everything bar the Leinster game.  

"We’ve also dramatically improved our discipline from what was a problem area in the past, and we’ve developed the squad in terms of both recruitment and from within.  

“But now we’re coming to crunch time and the next steps for us are that we need to go to Newcastle and get a result, then again in the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup, and then go to South Africa [for a double-header against the Stormers and the Bulls] and get a result. So, I’m pleased we’ve made big progressions from last season, but we know there are bigger steps on the journey. 

“I said to the boys the other day that if we really want to be contenders for silverware at the business end of the season we have to perform and get the results every week, not just when we are at home.” 

Glasgow came up short when they played Newcastle Falcons in a pre-season friendly last September, but Wilson insisted that this game will have little practical bearing on how his team prepare for this match. 

“There are maybe little themes that come out of that, but there are a lot of different personnel for both teams,” he reasoned. “And there’s a big difference between a pre-season friendly and a European knockout game. 

“They have a couple of midfield players – particularly George Wacokecoke – who are a real handful, and some really dangerous outside backs, like Mike Brown, if he’s fit, and Adam Radwan, who is electric ... one of the fastest players I’ve seen. 

“They also have a decent pack with a couple of very strong hookers, one of whom [Jamie Blamire] is in the England set-up at the moment, and they have a dangerous back-row who are hard over the ball and jackal well.  

“So, they have a decent team and they’ve won a few games in the Premiership, which is a tough league. I’m sure they’ll be very up for playing in front of their own crowd. 

“Part of our journey is to go away from home and be more clinical and more ruthless. I think we showed that at home against Zebre when we bounced back from the Cardiff defeat with a display of sticking to task and being ruthless, and now we need to show that we can do the same on the road. 

“We need to close-out the latter stages of games better. We have looked into that and will look further.”  

Unlike Newcastle, who had to battle all the way before clinching their home win over Zebre with a try in the last minute of the game, Glasgow had last weekend off – meaning they could rest his international contingent after a physically and mentally challenging Six Nations.   

“It was well-needed and good timing for us,” acknowledged Wilson. “Hopefully, we’ll see that in the performance at the weekend. 

“We’ve got a reasonable bill of health in terms of boys returning from knocks and international rest. We have one or two we still don’t have a definitive prognosis on yet, but if they’re not available this week or next then they should be available for the games in South Africa.”