GLASGOW were third in the URC table before this weekend’s round of games, a position they have been at or close to for much of the campaign. During that time they were able to look upwards, to see themselves as one of the teams chasing leaders Leinster. Not any more.

Now, following Friday night’s 32-7 defeat by the Stormers in Cape Town, the Warriors face an almighty scramble to get back into the top four and thus qualify for a home quarter-final. They were fifth before last night’s game between the Sharks and Leinster, and are surely now looking anxiously downwards at the teams below them.

A top-eight place is all but guaranteed. However, a fifth-to-eighth finish means an away tie in the last eight, with trips to Ireland or South Africa the probable destinations. Danny Wilson’s team would not exactly relish a visit to either country right now, given their away form is at best patchy.

To avoid such a visit, they may well have to earn points from both of their remaining matches: against the Bulls at altitude in Pretoria on Friday, and then at the DAM Health Stadium against Edinburgh three weeks later. It is a tall order, but Richie Gray, for one, remains in defiant mood.

“Our ambition is still top four,” the lock forward said after the defeat in the DHL Stadium. “We’ve spoken all season about being a top-four side and that’s not been changed by this result. We’ve still got two games left in the regular season and we’ll still be fighting for that.

“Next week is a massive week. Times are tough right now, but we’ve got that game next weekend and one win out of two on this tour is perhaps not a bad result. So we’ll pull together and our focus will be on trying to get a victory at the Bulls.

“We’ll continue training here, then we’ll go up [to Pretoria] the day before. I’m no sports scientist, but I don’t know how much you get out of two or three days at altitude compared to these guys who are training there all the time. We’ll go up there, dig in for the first 20 minutes, and hopefully catch our second wind.”

Glasgow’s performance against the Stormers was pretty much the opposite of that. They had the better of the first 20 minutes, with Jack Dempsey opening the scoring midway through the half, but then they simply seemed to get worse as the game went on. The concession of a try late in the first half was a blow, but going in just 13-7 behind, the visitors were still well in the running to get something out of the match. Instead, they fell off the pace badly in the second half, and ended up allowing the Stormers to score a bonus-point try in the last minute.

That score put the Capetonians up to second in the table, and they are now clearly title contenders. But Gray, while acknowledging how well the home team had played, insisted that could not be an excuse for his own side’s defects. 

“Hats off to the Stormers, they thoroughly deserved a win. [But] we blame ourselves. We couldn’t hold on to the ball and we couldn’t build any pressure, particularly in the second half. We weren’t able to build any pressure and get it down into their 22 - and when we did, we coughed up the ball. 

“We were just inviting them to attack us. They were very good and we were poor.”

It was by no means the first time this season that the Warriors have looked out of sorts for a long period in a match, but Wilson insisted there was no underlying problem with their application or attitude. “I didn’t question the effort from the boys,” the head coach insisted. “I didn’t question the fight. I think the boys worked extremely hard. 

“But there were certainly too many errors - around our kicking game and our running game. Our scrum was under the pump in the first half, and got better in the second. But we just didn’t really have any foothold to get back into the game in the second half. There were positives in the first half but not many in the second.”