GLASGOW Warriors winger Kyle Steyn believes that Saturday’s bonus-point home win over Ospreys, which lifted his side into the United Rugby Championship’s play-off places, was the ideal preparation for next weekend’s trip to Sandy Park for a showdown against an Exeter Chiefs side hell-bent on revenge. 

Warriors blew away the cobwebs after two weekends of Covid enforced idleness with a performance which combined accuracy and intent in attack with stubbornness in defence. The set-piece stacked up after a shaky start, and there was maturity and intelligence in how the key decision-makers managed the match. 

In the end, the 38-19 score-line flattered the visitors. Some sloppiness in the first half – perhaps a function of the team’s lack of recent action – handed Ospreys stand-off Gareth Anscombe the chance to keep his team in touch with four successful penalties, while the only try conceded by Warriors came from a defensive lapse in the 70th minute, when the game was already dead as a contest. 

All in all, it was a good day at the office for Danny Wilson’s side, but they know that they will face a step-up in class next weekend.  

Since suffering a humbling 22-7 defeat at Scotstoun in mid-December – in Warriors last game before their Covid outbreak – the Chiefs have beaten Bristol Bears 19-13 at home and suffered a gut-wrenching 14-12 away loss to Harlequins on Saturday (playing half the game with 14-men following the red-carding of Alec Hepburn). After a slow start to the season, Chiefs are beginning to look a bit more like the irresistible force they have been in recent seasons. 

“It’s obviously been a disrupted period for us these last couple of weeks, but there was a lot of emphasis on trying to build on what we did against Exeter in our last game before the lay-off,” said Steyn on Saturday evening. “The fact there wasn’t any fans there, as well, made it a bit different. But I think we did well to adapt, and it was a good win for us in the end.   

‘We got some decent time with ball in hand, and also had to make some important defensive sets, so it was a good workout for us before Exeter.” 

A win on Saturday would be a big statement for Glasgow and all but guarantee qualification to knock-out stages of the Champions Cup. A loss would not be a disaster, but it would prick the bubble of belief which has developed within the squad. 

“We know that we can do it, but that game is in the past now,” Steyn replied when asked whether the previous match will shape his team’s approach to this re-match. “They’re at home and they will be hungry to put things right. For us, it’s just about taking the belief out of the previous game.  

“That’s two positive results back-to-back we’ve now achieved – albeit three weeks apart – so it feels like there’s a bit more consistency around what we’re doing now. We’re a lot clearer about the type of performance we want to put in and where that minimum standard is. It feels like we’re heading in the right direction.” 

Sione Tuipulotu edged out homegrown flanker Rory Darge for the man-of-the-match award against Ospreys – thanks to an energetic all-round performance both sides of the ball, topped off with two tries which showcased the lethal combination of pace and power the Australian-born/Scottish-capped centre possesses – and he is one of a handful of southern hemisphere imports who have added real bite to the Warriors squad this season. 

“Sione had a tough time when he arrived in the summer because he had to isolate straight away,” revealed Steyn. “He only trained with us for about five or six days after that, then the whole squad got put into isolation. So, basically, he spent about 20 days in isolation during his first month here – which can’t have been much fun.  

“But he’s such a great bloke. He’s fitted in seamlessly and is making a great impact. He talks a lot of rubbish sometimes which gets the boys giggling. We make sure that he knows he’s talking rubbish … but we all know the attributes he has as a player. He’s pretty much got the complete game. 

“It’s great to see the new guys making such a great impact,” Steyn added. “The likes of Josh McKay [a full-back from New Zealand] as well, and we were also keen to see big Walt [Tongan winger Walter Fifita] with ball in hand when he came on.  

“They are all fantastic players but also fantastic guys to have around in the environment every day. They have fitted in seamlessly.” 

Australian No8 Jack Dempsey wasn’t involved this weekend but is expected to be in the frame for Exeter. His form since the start of the season will tempt Wilson to throw him straight back into the starting XV, but that would be incredibly tough on whichever one of Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson and Darge then misses out, because all three were superb against the Ospreys.