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What Franco Smith has made of the recent underwhelming Glasgow run

By PA
Glasgow boss Franco Smith (Photo by Paul Devlin/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Franco Smith is unfazed by an underwhelming Glasgow ending to the regulation United Rugby Championship season as he fully expects his team to rise to the big occasion against Stormers in Saturday’s play-off quarter-final.

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Warriors go into the showdown with the South African side on the back of consecutive defeats against Bulls and Lions and an unconvincing victory over bottom-of-the-table Zebre.

Smith is confident his team, who finished fourth in the URC table, are ready to regain their best form when it matters most. “Everything must be kept in perspective,” said the head coach.

“We reached a period in the season where we had already qualified and done what needed to be done. Last week’s result wasn’t going to change much about this week. The focus from the start of the week has been really good.

“It was special this week, you can see the players are eager to get out and express themselves. For the last couple of weeks, they have felt ready for the big occasion and hopefully they can channel that energy into a smart performance against Stormers.”

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Glasgow, who welcome back captain Kyle Steyn, are buoyed by the knowledge that they won 20-9 in their last meeting with Stormers at Scotstoun in November. “It was good to have won that game,” said Smith.

“It is obviously better to use a victory rather than a loss against them in preparation for that game but it does not affect much in our preparation this week.

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“We looked back at it a little bit as a coaching group to see what was done and how it worked but that’s not going to influence this game at all.

“This is going to be a completely new challenge because it’s a one-off match, it’s knockout rugby, it’s not going to be as liberal, I would think, as it was in the previous game.”

Stormers finished fifth in the URC, one place behind Glasgow, and Smith is anticipating a tough test. “They had a rough start and they dropped some games which they were used to winning but they are still the finalists of last year and the team that won it the year before.

“They have still got the same players there, the same quality. They have got a lot of Springboks across the board, their coaching team has been with them for a while, so they have good continuity. They have got a solid platform so it’s going to be a tough ask to come out on top.”

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 5 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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FEATURE Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’? Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?
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