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Franco Smith: Munster win stands Glasgow in good stead for URC final at Bulls

By PA
Galway , Ireland - 28 October 2023; Glasgow Warriors head coach Franco Smith, right, and Kyle Steyn of Glasgow Warriors before the United Rugby Championship match between Connacht and Glasgow Warriors at The Sportsground in Galway. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Franco Smith believes Glasgow’s stunning semi-final win at Munster has set them up perfectly to handle the ‘hostility’ they will face from the Bulls’ home crowd in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship Grand Final in South Africa.

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The Warriors triumphed 17-10 over the holders at Thomond Park last weekend and now they must win away at another of the URC’s most intimidating venues when they run out at the 51,000-capacity Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Smith feels their recent experience in Ireland will stand Glasgow in good stead for their biggest game of the season.

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“I think we’ve learned a lot from last week’s game,” said the head coach, a former South Africa international. “There were 20,000 Irish supporters at Thomond Park and it could have been intimidating but I think we’ve taken a lot from that in our preparation for this week.

“We know we will face a pretty hostile crowd over here as well. It will be double the number of last week but again it’s about just focusing on the task at hand and not getting engulfed by the occasion.”

Smith is leading his side into a second final in two seasons at the helm after losing to Toulon in last year’s Challenge Cup showpiece in Dublin. The head coach feels his team has evolved since then as they bid to end a nine-year wait for silverware.

“Last year we had another final opportunity, and this one is obviously the pinnacle of this season so we’re really looking forward to being a part of it,” he said.

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“There have definitely been a lot of lessons learned. From the quarter-final match at home to Munster last year and the Challenge Cup final against Toulon, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve taken some of those learnings into our pre-season and then through the whole season.

“We’re looking forward now to our next challenge and our next step.”

Smith has chosen the same starting XV he fielded in both the quarter-final and semi-final wins over Stormers and Munster, with 12 full Scotland internationals.

“We have different objectives throughout the season,” he said. “It’s about getting new players used to this level of play, developing the squad, keeping freshness and enthusiasm, managing 20 Scottish internationals through a long season.

“It was all about building towards allowing us now in the last part of the season to have the best available team out there to represent a very competitive squad.”

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Tom 1 hours ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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