Stafford McDowall has urged Glasgow Warriors to end their regular season strongly and use their home advantage in the play-offs.

The Scotstoun side currently sit second in the United Rugby Championship (URC) and a top four spot would earn them a home quarter-final, while finishing in the top two would guarantee Franco Smith's side a home semi-final if they win that.

The Warriors are unbeaten at home in the URC this season and their only Scotstoun defeat in all competitions came against Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

McDowall reckons finishing as high up the table as possible could have a big say in Glasgow's chances of winning the title for the second time. 

The defeat to Munster in last season’s quarter-final still hurts McDowall, and he doesn’t want to see that repeated this year.

That starts with the visit of Sharks on Friday before a trip to Parma to face bottom club Zebre, then a two-match tour to South Africa, where Glasgow will face the Bulls and Lions. The Warriors finish the regular season with Zebre visiting Scotstoun on May 10. 

Scotstoun has earned a reputation as being a difficult place for visiting teams, and McDowall is looking for another bumper crowd as the club marks its Plaster it Purple fundraiser in aid of Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity.

He said: “It gives you a big advantage, being at home, being in your own environment [and] not being interrupted by travel. 

“After the disappointment of last year, losing at home to Munster, [in the URC play-off quarter-final] we want another crack at that to give our fans, hopefully, a home quarter, and even a home semi to cheer about.

Scotland Rugby News: Stafford McDowall says playing at Scotstoun in the play-offs would give Glasgow a big advantageStafford McDowall says playing at Scotstoun in the play-offs would give Glasgow a big advantage (Image: SNS)

“It gives you a good advantage. Teams have to come here and we hope to make this a place where teams don’t want to come and play.

"I don’t think we’ve lost a league game here all season. The record is strong but we’re not guaranteed to win. We saw against Cardiff a couple of weeks ago that teams push you all the way.

“We know that if you play at home you are not guaranteed anything, you don’t get any special privileges, but it does give you a bit of an advantage in terms of your mindset."

READ MORE: Players must take blame for Scotland failure, says Tuipulotu

McDowall, who has captained Glasgow in the absence of club skipper Kyle Steyn this season, echoed the sentiments of assistant coach Peter Murchie, who said they won't be taking Sharks lightly despite their league position.

READ MORE: Pete Murchie expects tough Sharks test despite lowly URC placing 

The Durban-based franchise are 13th in the table, but have won their last four matches in all competitions, including two wins over Edinburgh. 

He said: "The Sharks are coming this weekend and they pose a massive threat.

"You can forget about their early season form now, I think they’ve really grown into the team everyone expected them to be right from the start.

“We’re under no illusions about their league position, about them being out the top eight.

"We know they’re going to come here full of confidence, with a bounce in their step, and they’re going to want to keep that momentum going towards the Challenge Cup semi-final - that’s their way of getting into the Champions Cup now.

“So we’ll expect them to come here full of energy, full of momentum and ready to have a go at us.”

Scotland Rugby News: Glasgow and Sharks pack down for a scrum on the South African side's last visit to ScotstounGlasgow and Sharks pack down for a scrum on the South African side's last visit to Scotstoun (Image: SNS)

Glasgow do have two games in South Africa to take care of and, as Edinburgh showed recently, that’s no easy task for any travelling side.

If they can get back to Scotland with some points on the board they will feel they are in a very good position to achieve what they want to this season.

This weekend’s opponents have eight players who were members of the South Africa squad that won the World Cup last year, though head coach John Plumtree has indicated he may make changes so their Springbok stars like Bongi Mbonambi and Eben Etzebeth might sit out the trip to Scotstoun. 

McDowall knows facing South African sides can pose a different challenge - and knows Glasgow will need to deliver their best performance to win. 

He said: “They’re massively physical teams. You look at the Sharks and they’ve got eight Springboks who won the World Cup in the summer.

“Set-piece is going to play a massive part in it. At the scrum, you can see the way their front row has been taking teams apart.

"We’re more than confident our pack of forwards can match that and I think if you can get on top of them in that regard it goes a long way to winning the game.

“[Lukhanyo] Am, [Makazole] Mapimpi, [Aphelele] Fassi, Grant Williams, [Jaden] Hendrikse, [Curwin] Bosch - they’re all x-factor players. Nothing looks on then suddenly there’s a chip and chase from nowhere and you’re under your own sticks. We’ll have to be switched on for the full 80 minutes.”