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

Scots name same starting line-up that began at Thomond Park

Their victory at Thomond Park has given Glasgow Warriors confidence that they can win this weekend in Pretoria. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
URC Final: Bulls v Glasgow Warriors, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Saturday, 5.0 Irish time – Live RTÉ News Channel and Premier Sport

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 final in South Africa.

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.

“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.

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“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.

“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 preseason 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.”

BULLS: Devon Williams; Sergeal Petersen, David Kriel, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier; Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Wilco Louw; Ruan Vermaak, Ruan Nortje (capt); Marco Van Staden, Elrigh Louw, Cameron Hanekom.

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, Cornel Smit

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Josh McKay; Sebastian Cancelliere, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Kyle Steyn (capt); Tom Jordan, George Horne,; Jamie Bhatti, Johnny Matthews, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Richie Gray; Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: George Turner, Nathan McBeth, Oli Kebble, Max Williamson, Euan Ferrie, Henco Venter, Jamie Dobie, Duncan Weir.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Ita)